We need more authentic and transformational leaders in our world

NAME: Britt Avery       
HOMETOWN: Story City
MAJOR: Journalism and communication with a concentration in organizational and public relations

INVOLVEMENT ON CAMPUS: Wartburg Choir, Ritterchor, Festeburg, PRSSA, Resident Assistant

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG? After visiting Wartburg for different visit days and camps, all I could think about when I left was, “When do I get to go back?” Wartburg is one of the most welcoming and friendly places I can think of. The students here graduate with the potential to do and be whatever and whoever they want. When I go home and people ask where I go to college, their eyes just light up when I tell them “Wartburg.” There is something special about this place and the reputation this college can help students create.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAJOR IN JOURNALISM & COMMUNICATION? I chose my major after deciding that pre-med, accounting, and Spanish education were not for me. I was told multiple times that I needed to look into the journalism route, but I really only liked writing my own personal things, not press releases and news articles. After talking with Dr. (Penni) Pier and other students who have excelled in this major, I knew that I wanted that hands-on experience that they all had. This major is one that challenges you to learn so much. I love that about the journalism and communication department. Everyone is always uplifting, even though we all are secretly stressed!

Britt Avery

WHY DID YOU START YOUR BLOG, TAKING MY FAITH OFF THE SHELF? It really was a split-second decision. I was sitting in the Wartburg Chapel balcony with the Wartburg Choir, eyes barely open because I had spilled my coffee and didn’t get to drink any before singing. Pastor (Brian) Beckstrom sparked my passion for writing my blog. His message was focused on how as college students, we often come to college and leave our faith on the shelf and try to pick it up when we run into hard times or even way after we graduate. That was me in a nutshell, and my blog was one way I could improve myself as a Christian and as a college student. I wanted to strive to be a servant-leader. My blog was a way to serve others with encouragement and also keep myself in check with my character. 
(NOTE: You can visit Britt’s blog at https://brittontyleravery.wixsite.com/sundaymorningblog.)

WHAT DO YOU HOPE PEOPLE TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BLOG? I’m hoping readers can take something, literally anything away from my works. Whether what they take away is “I need to do something with my life” or “I’d love to go and try this out,” I want to inspire people to go and do something they’re not familiar or comfortable with. No, I don’t want everyone to convert to a traditional Christian, which may seem awful to some but enlightening to others. I hate the idea that you can’t be something else other than a believer. I myself am a Christian believer, but I think it’s important to respect the beliefs and opinions of others in their walks of life. I really just want others to be moved to make themselves the greatest they can become while also striving to help others do the same. We need more authentic and transformational leaders in our world, and I truly think my blog, devotional, and future books will impact people on a level that could potentially change lives.

HOW HAS THIS PLATFORM HELPED YOU CONNECT WITH YOUR FAITH AND OTHERS?  There are two reasons I write. One is I feel obligated to write because someone asks how I’m doing on my books and another is because I feel God calling me to get back to work. The biggest reason I chose to start writing my blog and my books was not because I wanted to become a big-time author and make a ton of money, but because I felt I have some sort of a gift with storytelling and I wanted to share that. There’s a Bible passage from the book of Romans, and it says this: “God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.” (Romans 12:6 – New Living Translation)

I’ve always had a connection with my faith, as I was raised up by my church in Iowa and former church from back home in South Carolina, but it was never a more mature and legitimate faith. Being in college now and seeing that everything that I say and do can impact others in one way or another, my faith is super important in helping me guide just what it is that I say and do. My faith has helped me to encourage others here on campus to get past a really crappy weekend or a Monday morning. It’s helped adults far beyond my age to forgive relatives that they had scuffles with in the past, and now they’re close again. My faith has helped people understand that they can move on from their mistakes and start fresh at any time and know that they always will have someone to support them along the way. However, none of this was simply because I had a “writing gift;” I believe and give credit to God for allowing me to share what I believe and have found with others I care about. Without Him, none of what I’ve done so far would be possible, and I know I’d be in a completely different place of life.

YOU HAVE A COUPLE OF PROJECTS IN THE WORKS. WHAT ARE THEY, AND WHAT ARE YOU HOPING THE END RESULT WILL BE WITH THEM? I do! Currently, I am focusing primarily on sort of a “strength and conditioning” devotional. This past February, I gave it the title Spiritually F.I.T., and I released a sneak peek into why I’m writing it and how it’s formatted to be a quick daily read and reflection devotional. Being in Wartburg Choir, we always do a devotional and I figured I would format my devotionals similar to my blog posts with fun stories and analogies that people can relate to. The release date for Spiritually F.I.T. was the fall of 2020, but having three separate internships this summer and the fact that I had no idea we’d run into a pandemic back in February, I’m now shooting for the end of this academic year in spring of 2021.

The other two books I have started on are Taking Your Faith Off the Shelf and Super Stars. The first one, Taking Your Faith Off the Shelf, is more of a humorous yet practical survival guide for college students. The book is basically a manual with stories, tips, and tricks to tackle college like a champ, giving advice that I have and that I wish I was given before coming to college. In addition to that, I speak along the lines of character and how your reputation at college is critical to building up before leaving college and entering the “real adult world.” The expected release date for this is sometime before I graduate Wartburg or right after I graduate.

Super Stars is a book that I have developed a template for, started gathering information, contacts and notes for, but won’t begin writing it until after college. The idea for Super Stars came to me just like the idea for all of it did. It was an all-of-a-sudden idea that popped in my head like a lightbulb hovering over my head. The idea of Super Stars is looking more into athletes I’m familiar with who are incredible leaders and athletes but also have deep-rooted faith. Some of those are going to be college and pro athletes and potentially a few Olympic athletes I’ve met in the past (funny story, I actually ran into and had a nice chat with two Olympic hockey players, twin sisters Monique and Jocelyne Lamoureux, before I hopped on a flight, right after I announced Spiritually F.I.T.). There are plenty of phenomenal athletes that society idolizes, but I also think it’s really inspiring to see those athletes who are incredible at what they do, but also have a strong sense of humility. They aren’t looking to credit themselves, but instead, they credit God or their mom or someone that they respect far beyond themselves.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WARTBURG MEMORY? My favorite Wartburg memory was when I went out to Wartburg West in Denver. I had a Spanish immersion course there led by Dr. Zak Montgomery. I roomed with one of my buds, Tristan Voelker. We had such a fun time cooking together, learning about Hispanic culture, and getting to know everyone else in our group, both in English and Spanish. On the way to Denver and back, Tristan and I were two of the student drivers. Being 19 years old, we were having so much fun driving together for 12 hours and talking about life, music, and how grateful we are to have run into each other at Wartburg. In addition to that, I had just returned from California and Arizona from a national choir tour with the Wartburg Choir. April and May of 2019 so far have been the peak of my Wartburg experience.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR CURRENT STUDENTS?  I have two pieces of advice and they contradict each other really well. The first piece of advice I would give is this: Try new things. Whether it’s making new friendships, joining a club, sport, or choir that you’re interested in but you might not think you’d be all that great at it, just give it a shot! Another thing related to that is building your network. It’s so important to know people. Not just their names, but their passions and the paths of life they’re going on. You never know when you’ll run into that same person down the road. An example of this was my freshman year, I told a nice bearded guy at orientation that I really liked his beard. That person was Josh Voigt, who was the student body president at that time and eventually became a friend of mine.

The second piece of advice I have is to become more and more familiar with one of my favorite two-letter words: no. The word can sometimes seem like a bummer of a word or a negative response, but saying no to things you cannot fully commit to or to things you don’t feel comfortable with is one of the best things you can do. Sometimes you even have to tell yourself no when it comes to making big and little decisions.

WHY IS WARTBURG WORTH IT? One of the things that makes Wartburg worth it is the folks that work behind the scenes to make our experience here so amazing! From those in Dining Services to those in Student Senate to those in Admissions, the Marketing & Communication Office, to our faculty and staff, our maintenance and cleaning staff who work early mornings and late nights, student and residential life, our security officers, the Business and Registrar’s offices, our tech staff that deals with Internet issues and those in Neumann that deal with anything that has a cord or a wireless signal, and our deans, Board of Regents and President Colson. It’s the folks here at Wartburg that do what they do, not just for a paycheck, but because they honestly want Wartburg to be a place that lasts forever. Wartburg is worth it because those working behind the scenes continue to make an impact on so many individuals that come here, and the impacts they make on the students here are duplicated as the students go and make that same impact on the world.