Excited to be a ‘Double ‘Burger’

NAME: Alana Harms     
HOMETOWN: Flanagan, Ill. 
MAJOR: Religion and Spanish

INVOLVEMENT ON CAMPUS: Volleyball, Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry, Dance Marathon

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: I joke with people that I was bound to follow in my dad’s footsteps (he’s an ’81 alum), but really what drew me to Wartburg was the community. On my first visit, I still remember how Coach Walker, one of the volleyball coaches, took the time to chat with me, even though she was going into a meeting soon. That kind of connection and kindness continued as I toured The W with Coach Frazell (the other volleyball coach), talked to professors about academics, and worshipped with students in the chapel. On the surface, volleyball, school, and my faith were my priorities heading into college, but what really made me choose Wartburg was the community of people that would support me as I became the person God created me to be.

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON YOUR MAJOR: Sometime between my first and second year, post-RE 101, was when I first started thinking about becoming a religion major. I had a lot of conversations with my friends and with Dr. Bouzard during that time, because I hadn’t really learned about discernment before and I was scared of leaving the math major I had chosen at the beginning of college. Eventually, through a lot of reflecting and praying and making changes to my schedule, I realized that I was being called to a new path: the road to rostered ministry.

Alana Harms

Spanish, on the other hand, was a part of my Wartburg career from the beginning. I took SP 204 as my language credit during my first semester because I was excited to keep learning beyond the classes I had taken in high school. Before I knew it, I was spending May Term in Costa Rica and adding a Spanish minor! My passion for studying language and culture kept me going, and it was only a matter of time before I changed my minor to a major. Now, as I’m finishing my Spanish credits abroad, I couldn’t be happier to have chosen my two majors. I love how they both help me understand people and meet them where they’re at, whether that means literally speaking their language or simply listening to them talk about making meaning in the world.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION: I will be attending Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, this fall to pursue my Master of Divinity degree. I’m super excited to be a “double ‘Burger”!

HOW DID WARTBURG PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR NEXT STEP: It’s hard to put into words exactly how Wartburg has prepared me, because Wartburg shaped me into the person I am today. However, I think the best phrase that captures my preparation at Wartburg would be the “challenge and nurture” part of the mission statement. Wartburg has provided me with many challenges, from the level of my coursework to experiences that pushed me out of my comfort zone to the constantly present question of who I am and who I want to be. Yet Wartburg has also nurtured me as I’ve faced these challenges, through professors who affirmed my gifts, a community that showed up to support me, and friends who became family. I know I am academically equipped and thoroughly prepared as a servant leader because of my time at Wartburg.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS: Definitely my religion capstone with Dr. Bouzard. It was also one of the most challenging courses I’ve taken, but that helped me learn and grow a lot over the course of the semester. Reading, analyzing, and writing about theological work in that class both informed my opinions on theological concepts and forced me to articulate my own perspective on them. I also gained confidence in my own work, as my friends and I talked through everything from theology of the cross to the future of the church. By the end of the course, we all felt like true theologians.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS: Oh, there’s almost too many to name! Pastor Brian, Pastor Ramona, and Dr. Bouzard have had a huge impact on me, as well as every member of the religion department. I’ve also learned a lot from Dr. Montgomery in the Spanish department, who has helped me through each step of my Spanish career and continues to teach me about life and culture. And, of course, Coach Walker has always been there for me, whether I need advice about school things or I just want to chat. I’m grateful that she’s like a second mom to our team, because there have definitely been times when I’ve needed a mom on campus.

The fact that I could continue listing people is one of the reasons why I love Wartburg; the relationships I’ve formed here are incredibly valuable and important to me.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WARTBURG MEMORY: While I feel like I have plenty of highlights to choose from, from zip lining upside down in Costa Rica to winning a five-peat conference title with the volleyball team, the memory I’ll always hold of Wartburg is that of worshipping each week with the wonderful people at Sanctuary. That community accepted me when I was still finding my place at Wartburg, and before long it became a safe space –a true Sanctuary – in my life. As I became more involved with worship and began to take on leadership roles, Sanctuary grew to become my favorite part of the week and the place where I felt most at home on campus. I’ll never forget how much I loved talking, taking communion, and singing “Sanctuary” with my people in that place.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS: Find a few things you love doing and go after those things. I think we have this culture at Wartburg where everyone is very involved in everything, which is great, but it leads us to identify students by what they do (and how much they do) instead of who they are. I’ve fallen victim to this mentality too – in fact, I’d probably be the poster child for it — but what I’ve learned is that it’s so much more valuable to give your best to a couple of things than give just a little bit of yourself to everything around you. For me, the “couple of things” were volleyball, campus ministry, and Wartburg College Dance Marathon, so I always had to remember that my heart went to my education and to those organizations first.

FINAL REFLECTIONS: I’m so incredibly thankful to have been a Knight. After thinking about each of these aspects of my college career, I get why my friends joke with me about wearing too much orange or throwing out too many #worthits. I really have enjoyed my experience here, from the things I’ve learned to the person I’ve become.