California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    To Inspiration and Beyond

    This past December, Lauren Witman and Colleen Windham-Hughes both received Inspiration Awards after being a light for the community and for consistently bringing their faith into their everyday lives.

    Witman is a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in theology and Christian leadership.

    Windham-Hughes is an assistant professor and the Director of the Theology and Christian Leadership program. Both received the award for their commitment to inspiring the California Lutheran University community through their faith.

    Neither of the recipients knew they were to receive the award ahead of time, and it came as a pleasant surprise during the Sankta Lucia celebration. As President Chris Kimball described the recipient, Windham-Hughes found herself identifying more and more with the things Kimball was saying.

    โ€œI realized the further he went in his description, that combination of things was present in me,โ€ Windham-Hughes said.

    โ€œI was completely surprised by the award, so I felt anxious to go up in front of everyone to receive it without being prepared, but I also felt incredibly honored,โ€ said Witman in an email interview.ย 

    A major part of Witmanโ€™s work on campus is her involvement with the alternative spring break trips.

    โ€œI do hope that it inspires people to be more active on and off campus,โ€ Witman said about planning the trips.

    โ€œShe can be reserved in conversation but she listens so deeply to others and to herself and she processes everything that she hears through her faith,โ€ Windham-Hughes said.

    Beyond her involvement with service trips Whitman interacts well with people and allows her faith to show though in her daily life.

    โ€œShe also is quite a loyal friend and an advocate for people as theyโ€™re moving into vibrant and healthy living,โ€ said Melissa Maxwell-Doherty, part of the office of university pastors, which nominates students, staff or faculty for the award. โ€œIf you knew her youโ€™d probably want to be her friend.โ€

    Windham-Hughes shows her close work with the community through her teaching and interaction with students outside of a traditional classroom setting. She helps students in internships, in the SEEd Garden, at conferences and retreats and even after graduation.

    She seeks to inspire students to work together to inspire one another in addition to using faith in their daily lives. It is the most inspiring to her when students find this need for community.

    โ€œI love those moments with students when they realize how deeply they need their peers, how deeply they need mentors or family or, you know, focus in the community,โ€ Windham-Hughes said.

    Even inside the classroom, Windham-Hughes is capable of giving her students drive and inspiration.

    โ€œIf you ever meet a student who has her for class and I mention something about Dr. Windham-Hughes, their face lights up,โ€ Maxwell-Doherty said.

    The Inspiration Awards were created to honor people who inspire others through faith. They recognize faculty and staff or students who provide a light for the Cal Lutheran community.

    The awards are held together with the Sankta Lucia celebration, a holiday Maxwell-Doherty describes as celebrating light during the darkest time of year. She said the alumni who originally established the awards over 25 years ago โ€œsaw it as reflecting the light of Jesus.โ€

    Both recipients are grateful for the award.

    โ€œI also felt incredibly honored,โ€ said Witman. โ€œI have known and respected several of the students who have received it in previous years and felt humbled to be included with them.โ€

    โ€œIโ€™m deeply honored,โ€ Windham-Hughes said. โ€œI would say that I am inspired by so many people on this campus, students, staff and faculty. I find it to be a place of great dynamism, where there is space to breathe if we will just look up and connect with one another.โ€

    Allie Leslie
    Staff Writer
    Published February 18th, 2015