Maureen “Sunshine” Smith receives the Judith Waller Harvey Award in Campus Ministry

Today was our annual spring awards. It is a celebratory time to gather and recognize the gifts, talents, and hard work of our students on campus.  We have so many wonderful students doing amazing things that it’s hard to identify them all, but today one very special student known on campus as “Sunshine” received the campus ministry award. She is a religious studies student, a minister in Greensboro, and has worked closely with campus ministry over the years. She is truly a spark of light on campus and we are so really proud of all she has accomplished.

To give you just a small glimpse into how special Sunshine is, I hope you will read this blog post from the Guilford College news update.

Her name is Maureen Smith ’17. But virtually everyone on the planet calls her “Sunshine.” She’s carried that nickname her whole life—since her brothers gave her the moniker when they were little kids playing church. She lives up to her name with a consistently sunny disposition and a genuine desire to be a light for others. On April 3, her bright presence saved a man’s life.

The 47-year-old Guilford College CCE student majoring in Religious Studies says that day began with her feeling a profound sense of peace. As her Quaker Spirituality class closed with its traditional three minutes of silence, Sunshine was moved to stand and share what she was sensing.

“I told the class that I felt disarmed and powerful—not disarmed and vulnerable,” she says. “In that moment I believed there was an innate armor protecting me.” She told her classmates that she loved them and gave everyone a hug as she left class.

Sunshine immediately proceeded to meet a friend at a local restaurant, even though the restaurant was not one she favored to say the least. During their conversation, she shared the importance of “being centered” and how to be “more present in the moment.”

Read the rest of the story on Guilford College’s website.

Excerpt from Abe Kenmore’s (’17) Meeting for Worship Message from August 2016

And yet — I feel like being a Quaker is every bit as important to me as it was when I arrived on campus, having chosen it in part for the QLSP program and the Quaker ethics. My personal faith has not changed overmuch, but what I have gained is a new appreciation of community. When I applied to colleges, I intentionally went for small liberal arts schools where the community — academic and otherwise — would be strong, rather than a larger or more prestigious school. I had grown up in communities — Quaker communities, social justice communities, my home-schooling community. But I had never been in a community quite like the one offered by QLSP.

In my year level, we have often joked about how much crying we did the first year we were all together. It seemed like ever check in, someone had some issue weighing heavy on their heart. I have never been in a community that was so open to sharing not only joys but sorrows, and I think that without it, my experience at Guilford would have been much harder.

…And when I studied in England, one of the first things I did was seek out a meeting there. It was a large meeting, and at the end of 5 months of attendance, most people still did not know who I was, and I would have new introductions every week. But I joined a community of other young friends who gathered for worship and baked potatoes every week, and we had potlucks and pub visits together, sat around and talked about school and home, ran into each other at college, and more. We could share our feelings of frustration or loneliness or hope and excitement, and know that they were being heard.

I have not had many theological revelations in college. When I sit in silent meeting, my mind still wanders more than not. And yet, I have discovered in the past few years a power in community that I had not realized, at least consciously, in my home meeting. I miss meeting when I don’t go, even if I spend the hour of silence hour thinking about my essays, or a book I’m reading, or something even more mundane. But then I go sometimes to QLSP and share the grief and joys on my heart, or I go to Friendship and hear a powerful message that keeps me thinking and meditating. I eat potluck with Friends, or drink tea, and talk about life. And I find myself grounded to the world, to my community, and to myself, for another week. It is this — the necessity of spiritual community, a community that can truly hold grief and joy and everyday life — more than anything else, that I have learned while at Guilford.

Abraham Kenmore, College Meeting for Worship, 28 August 2016

Students Go to Belize – Reflections from Laura Adair

Reflections on the work trip from Laura Adair (Class of 2017):

Being from California I have never been able to go home for Guilford’s fall break; and as always Frank Massey invited me to come on the work trip with the Friends Disaster Service group, also known as FDS. This has been a routine trip for me every fall that I have been at Guilford, so of course, I was so excited. However, once I received the list of people who were going I started getting a little nervous because I didn’t really know anyone going on the trip. Since I really didn’t have any other option, I decided to go knowing what a rewarding experience it is to help build a house and to have discussions with people who don’t have the same experiences as me. It started with a very quiet van ride to Evergreen Virginia especially because I was in the van with only four Guilford students. Thankfully, once we arrived at our destination silence was never a problem again. Almost all of the other students knew each other, being either first-year students or international students that had crossed paths before. I, thankfully, was welcomed immediately by many of the older FDS workers who remembered me even though it had been almost two years since I’d been on a work trip.  All of the international students and people I didn’t know from Guilford welcomed me into their circle. As the week went on our relationships grew stronger, our work got better, and our laughter was louder. By the end of the work trip, whole group had grown much closer and really felt like a family. It was so wonderful to be building a house for someone in need while building our own community with all of the people from Friends Disaster Service, United Methodist Disaster Response and the Guilford College students.