‘From Wartburg into the world’

NAME: Samantha Pfab 
CLASS YEAR: 2020
HOMETOWN: Dubuque 
MAJOR: Religion

ON-CAMPUS INVOLVEMENT: Wartburg College Dance Marathon, Orientation Staff, Homecoming Committee, Spiritual Life & Campus Ministry, Theta Alpha Kappa, Students UKnight, Student Intern in Alumni/Parent Relations and Annual Giving Office, Department of Religion Assistant Office Coordinator

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: For me, there really was no other place that compared to Wartburg. Early in my junior year of high school, I knew that it was the place for me. For some reason, I just felt at home when I was on campus and no other school gave me the same feeling while offering such incredible opportunities as well.

HOW DID YOU FINALLY DISCERN YOUR CALLING AND WHO HELPED YOU ALONG THE WAY: Each time I changed my major I was scared, of course, I wondered how I could possibly know if this was even the right choice for me. One piece of advice that stuck with me throughout the entire process came from Lindsey Leonard. She told me to think about it in terms of “next best steps” rather than something that will be forever. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I’ve come to learn that discernment is a lifelong, ongoing process and that includes so many “next best steps” in between. Though discerning my call throughout my time at Wartburg was often overwhelming, I had so many people to walk with me through the process which made it more manageable and even enjoyable. I was able to see that it is okay to change your mind and that there is no reason not to pursue something you are passionate about.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION: I’m still discerning what my next step after Wartburg will be. Currently, I am hoping to serve for a year abroad with Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) or head to seminary to pursue a Masters of Divinity.  

TELL US MORE ABOUT ‘VON DER WARTBURG IN DIE WELT’: I first heard this phrase at the beginning of my second year at Wartburg as we were celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Dr. Kathryn Kleinhans was giving a presentation about the celebration and mentioned that this phrase was used in Germany as they celebrated as well. She explained that it means, “from Wartburg into the world.” From that moment, this phrase stuck with me. I went back to my dorm room and wrote it on my chalkboard, proudly explaining to my roommates the meaning behind it and how it applies to our time at Wartburg too. From that point on, I’ve continued to reflect on the phrase. Especially now in my final year, I look back at each and every experience I have been fortunate enough to have at Wartburg and how that has prepared me to head out into the world. I am certainly not ready to say goodbye to this place I have called home for four years, but I know that I could not be more prepared to do so. I often like to tie in the phrase with the sending, “go in peace to love and serve the Lord.” Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we conclude chapel with these words. We then go out onto campus and into the world. As graduation quickly approaches, I hope to leave going in peace, from Wartburg into the world.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR MOST MEMORABLE WARTBURG EXPERIENCE: There are so many memorable experiences throughout my time at Wartburg but one of the most impactful is The Burrow. I love all of campus but The Burrow is a place where I feel the most at home. After joining the religion department in my second year, this spot first got its name The Burrow as we began to live into it as a community. Students and faculty gather in this area daily for theological conversation as well as to just spend time with one another. Whether it’s lunchtime and we gather to eat with one another or it’s 1 a.m. and we struggle through our studies together, The Burrow is my favorite place to be. The Burrow is a place to study, to laugh, to cry, to just be. This place is so special to me because of the relationships it builds and the irreplaceable community it provides.  

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU NEVER IMAGINED YOU WOULD DO BEFORE COMING TO WARTBURG: I never thought that I would travel to so many different places and feel so comfortable doing so. Prior to Wartburg, I loved to travel but never in the way that I do now. I remember one of my first days on campus, I met Dr. Zak Montgomery who told me that I would be traveling to Costa Rica with him that May. I laughed at him and told him that I definitely would not be. Sure enough, a few months later I was boarding a plane and heading off to Costa Rica with him and about 23 other Wartburg students. I even extended my stay after the conclusion of May Term and took an additional Spanish course! I really would not have expected this of myself. This trip solidified my love for experiencing new pieces of the world, my eyes were opened and there was no looking back. From that point on, I was determined to experience the world as much as I could. I would have never imagined that I would be able to visit three countries in my first three years and look forward to another two countries for my final May Term. I knew Wartburg would give me the gift of incredible experiences but my travels have been far more than I could have ever asked for or imagined.

WHERE ALL HAVE YOU GONE AND WHAT WERE SOME HIGHLIGHTS FROM EACH EXPERIENCE: My first year I went to Costa Rica with Dr. Montgomery to fulfill credits for my Spanish minor; my second year I traveled to New Zealand for a leadership course with Dr. Dan Kittle; and in my third year I walked the footsteps of Martin Luther in Germany for a Reformation course with Dr. Caryn Riswold. This upcoming year, I’m looking forward to traveling to Greece and Turkey with Dr. Jeffcoat Schedtler. Each experience was unique in its own way by showing me a new pocket of the world. In Costa Rica, I learned the value of communication. I learned how incredible it is to have the ability to communicate with people in a different language than my own. I learned the importance of taking myself out of my comfortable context and allowing myself to grow into a more confident individual. In New Zealand, I was struck by the beauty of the earth. I learned how a community can come together in times of crisis and take something bad and turn it into something good. I learned about the importance of kindness and how to cultivate a more loving community. In Germany, I was in awe of the roots that still influence my life today. I learned more about Wartburg’s story and was able to grasp the hearts of our founders, developing an even stronger love for my school. I learned more about the history of the Lutheran church and began to truly picture myself as a leader of the church.

HOW ARE YOU LIVING OUT WARTBURG’S MISSION: One of the greatest things about Wartburg College is the significance placed on the mission. Truly, the mission statement has been engrained in my memory, and I cannot really picture my experience without it. I see myself being challenged and nurtured both in and out of the classroom, I have led and served with Wartburg College Dance Marathon and by embarking on service trips during breaks, and I have integrated my faith and learning through my discernment of where I feel called in life, pursuing a future working in the church. I hope to uphold this mission throughout the rest of my life, through all of my next steps out into the world.

WHY HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN WORTH IT: Honestly, there are far too many reasons why my experience has been worth it, I could talk about it forever. Yes, the places I have traveled made it worth it. Yes, my academic pursuits made it worth it. Yes, my on-campus involvement made it worth it. Most of all, though, the people at Wartburg made it worth it. I would not be me without each member of the Wartburg family. When it comes down to it, the actual experiences mean so much more because of who I have shared them with. When I reflect on my four years, I know without a doubt that they would not be the same if I didn’t have the people to share them with. This place is home because of the people who are here.