Meet the Class of 2014: Nolan Staples

NolanStaplesHometown: Newberg, Ore.
Major: Music

Q: How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

A: My experience at George Fox has been one that is rooted in community. When I graduated high school I was unsure whether I would attend Fox or a music school in Boston. I felt God leading me to go to Fox for at least a year, but I didn’t know if I would stay longer than that. By December of my freshman year I knew that I would stay at Fox, mostly because of the people. The many wonderful memories of the last four years are all so meaningful to me because of the people that I experienced this journey with. My life has been greatly impacted by my tennis teammates and coaches, several professors and mentors, and so many amazing friends that I have had the blessing to live in community with through the last four years. My strongest and fondest memories of my time at George Fox will not be the times when I was responsible about my schoolwork; they will be of the times when my friends and I dropped everything we should be doing and went out to do something random and ridiculous together (and then I had to stay up even later writing whatever paper I was supposed to be writing). I have learned a lot of important lessons about how to work hard and persevere even when things seem to be beyond my ability. More important than everything that I learned related to efficiency and success in academics, though, is what I learned about the importance of building strong relationships with those around me. I have come out on the other side of four great years at Fox with so many friendships that I will always cherish, and those friendships are what has defined my experience at George Fox.

Q: How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

A: I have experienced a significant amount of personal growth while at George Fox. In my first couple of years here I wrestled a lot with what defined me and gave me worth as a person. I was so consumed in the things that I did and, more importantly, the things that I did well, to the point where my personal perception of myself was in the things that I did. A big part of breaking that unhealthy cycle of thinking for me was in the process of letting go of the pressure that I put on myself in tennis. Once I realized that I could continue to work and compete hard without believing my worth was in how well I played or whether I won or lost, I was able to see more clearly that my worth was as a child of God, and the important thing was to work hard and set a positive and loving example for others. As I’ve continued on this journey of holding my identity in God’s love for me, I’ve worked to release myself in other areas of my life where I’ve experienced similar pressure and identity crises. There are a few coaches, professors and close friends at Fox who have really helped me in this area of growth. Most other significant personal changes have been beard-related.

Q: What’s next?

A: In July I will begin working as the interim pastor for worship ministries at Newberg Friends Church. I’ve attended Newberg Friends my entire life, and I’ve been so blessed to grow up in such a nurturing community. It’s been exciting to see how God has prepared both the church and myself for this transition in musical leadership. The interim position will be for a year, and I’m looking forward to growing as a leader and learning how to better serve my community during this next year. This position could lead to a more permanent position with the church, but whether or not it does I am excited to trust God in the ways he wants to use me.