Finding God’s ‘why’

Baccalaureate Mass speaker Gabby Chun reflects on her time at Marquette

When I was a newly graduated high school senior, I was itching to start college. Born and raised on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, I graduated from a thirteen-year college preparatory school, and I had the same routine of seeing the same people, wearing the same uniform, and having the same experiences. Needless to say, I was excited to start college at Marquette in Milwaukee with the only familiar face on campus being my own brother’s.

As I approached my departure day, I realized that I had never had the experience of being the “new kid.” For the first few weeks of my first semester, I reverted to my painfully shy childhood self. Rather than give into my severe homesickness and social anxiety, I persevered and threw myself into schoolwork until I felt a call to make a change, which I recognize now as God inviting me on a new journey I was excited for but didn’t expect.

Tired of my self-imposed isolation, I realized that I needed to leave my dorm room and participate in on-campus activities to explore how I wanted my experience at Marquette to look like. Perhaps you can relate to this scenario. I pushed myself to join multiple clubs, attend Honors program excursions, and participate in Campus Ministry retreats. As I started to cultivate new relationships with my professors, classmates, and God, these key individuals led me to an abundance of opportunities.

Alongside these opportunities, I struggled navigating college life, which caused me to get stuck on God’s “why” behind these situations. I’m sure you all have had times when you had to scramble to change your semester schedule, push yourself to be more involved in the community, and overcome bouts of social anxiety. Training myself to remember challenges like these and the blessings that came out of them sustained me until I learned God’s “why”. The professor I gained from a schedule change encouraged me to become a writing center tutor, a peer mentor from a student organization I hesitantly joined recommended me to work on an art and engineering exhibition, and a leader I met on my first retreat pushed me to be more active in the Campus Ministry community, where I found my closest friends. Time and time again, the pieces of our lives can fall differently than how we assume they will. By seeing opportunities in all that we face, we can understand how the changes in our initial plans have led to new avenues of growth.

Because we embrace new opportunities for growth, I would describe our class as trailblazers. We seek out experiences full of joy and enrichment. We ran to Bradford Beach when the temperature was finally above 65 degrees even if it dropped back down to 40 degrees the next day. We assumed leadership positions in our student organizations even if we felt like we didn’t know what we were doing half the time. We traveled to conferences and games across the country to represent Marquette as student leaders, athletes, and researchers even if we had to miss classes and play catch up. Seizing the moments as they come, we thrive on being challenged to feel the thrill of achievement.

While we should bask in the magnitude of our accomplishments, we need to remember that we did not do it alone. Those around us—our parents, friends, and Marquette community—have supported us tremendously, but no one more than God. Consider the Liturgy of the Eucharist we have just celebrated. God’s sacrifice for our salvation is present in the Eucharist, and we are encouraged to persevere in the face of challenges. We embody God by persisting, resulting in rich blessings. Your expectations when coming to Marquette were probably narrow in scope compared to what you have achieved in the last few years. God fills in the gaps we are missing in our plans, blessing us and elevating them to new realms of academic, spiritual, emotional, and professional achievement. As you reflect on the end of your current journey, look forward to what amazing opportunities are in store for you in the next one and how God will elevate your current plan.