“You won’t know what hit you,” they said. And, “It’s going to be tough.” Collin Spindle ’13 didn’t believe a word of it.
“We always think we’re going to be the exception,” the Denison, TX, native recalls with a rueful smile. “You think, ‘I’m going to be fine. This will be a piece of cake.’ But my freshman year was a humbling experience. A couple weeks into it, I felt like my whole world came tumbling down. That year was the best worst thing that ever happened to me.”
“I came in feeling so confident,” he explains. “Academically, I wasn’t worried. Plus, I was involved in everything in high school, so I thought organizations would be asking me to join. They would be, like, ‘This guy is top notch.’ With that in mind I applied for a few FLOs (Freshman Leadership Organizations). I was very selective. I got interviews with them, aaannnddd ….” He tosses up his hands and laughs out loud. “I got rejected!”
Still confused? Wondering why memories of rejection seems to make him … well … happy? It’s like this. The way Collin sees it, that season of hardship set the stage for some really good things, an attitude adjustment being chief among them. Bottom line, by the time his sophomore year rolled around, he found himself on an entirely new trajectory—a whole lot less wrapped up in himself and a whole lot more engaged in community.
“Community is very important to me now,” he says, “whatever that looks like. Any kind of community is fun. Community is where you’re challenged, where you become a better person. The Lord has given me a love for my community, especially for people younger than me who I can develop and train and teach. I would never have caught His vision if my freshman year hadn’t stopped me in my tracks.”
Catching a vision is one thing, coming up with a way to realize it is something else again. Collin’s problem was he liked everything—every single subject he studied. Before he knew it, he had 60 hours under his belt … and no declared major.
“I had never taken a class in recreation, parks, and tourism before,” he remembers, “but the summer before I had worked at a camp for 3rd—6th graders. It was called Centrikid, through Lifeway, and it was a great experience! So when I declared my major, I declared recreation, parks, and tourism sciences with an emphasis in youth development. And, man, I love my major!”
The teachers are, he says, the best. Trained in youth development themselves, they’re uniquely equipped to develop their own students in a way that’s exciting and dynamic. Plus, the field itself opens a world of opportunities, offering careers ranging from youth pastor to work at a Boys and Girls Club to positions with other youth-service organizations. The thread that runs through it all, says Collin, is a dedication to developing youth holistically—spiritually, physically, intellectually.
So how would Collin like to accomplish that? What does he plan to do after graduation?
“Yeah, that’s coming in May.” He laughs sheepishly. “So I should probably figure that out, right?”
Present options include serving as a children’s minister at a church in Little Rock; continuing with Camp Centrikid, where he has progressed from team leader to camp director; and participating in STINT, an East Asia internship program sponsored by Grace Bible Church. Collin plans to fire off any number of applications during the next couple of months, to “see where this all goes.”
In the meantime, Collin will continue to enjoy his classes and his work at the Student Counseling Service (SCS) in Cain Hall. Believe it or not, this dyed-in-the-wool extrovert works behind the scenes there … and likes it.
“Normally, I like to be a face, talking to people and interacting,” he admits. “That’s something I really love. My work at the Student Counseling Service is definitely behind the scenes—shredding, making copies, straightening chairs and rooms. That’s a lot of fun, too!”
Asked what he enjoys most about his job at SCS, Collin doesn’t hesitate.
“The environment,” he answers. “The positivity. The people who work there—from the counselors to the office staff—are positive and enthusiastic. They love what they do, and that’s so important for the students who come there, whether for help dealing with a traumatic event in their lives, or figuring out how they need to study. I love being a part of that.”
And so, as his final semester at Texas A&M winds to a close, Collin figures he has much to be thankful for: his major and the future it offers, the Student Counseling Service for the experience it has given him, Grace Bible Church for community … even his brothers, the doctors, who suggested Texas A&M in the first place. The way he sees it, he owes a big debt of gratitude to Texas A&M University as a whole.
After all, he says, “This isn’t my story, so much as it’s A&M’s story. We’re family.”
For more information on the Student Counseling Service and the programs/services offered there, please visit http://scs.tamu.edu/.
Kathy DiSanto, Communications Specialist
Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs