The founding coordinator of the Christianity and Culture Program spoke to a full and attentive Gentile Gallery on March 29 at 3 p.m. about the importance of building one’s own Christian identity during college years.
Janine Langan — who holds an honorary doctorate of sacred letters and is professor emerita at St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto — said that “at university, you can learn to expand your community from family and friends … to all of mankind.” She emphasized the need to establish one’s identity in the university community, which fosters and expands one’s worldview.
To find authentic identity at university, Langan told the room mostly full of students to “stop looking at your neighbor.” She explained that a true education is more than gathering knowledge but rather is “getting out of your little tiny self” with the help of a leader or mentor.
Reflecting on her own life and time spent in university, Langan said, “I owe myself to this mass preparation period of time.” She clarified that she became more fully herself not on her own but through her mentors. “I am not a maker of myself. I receive myself,” she said.
Langan exhorted the audience to find professors who are passionate about their work and willing to put the effort into their students for them to grow. Recognizing that these professors often teach rigorous classes, she recommended that students “forget the grades for a few minutes and get an educator.”
Langan further explained that in working to develop one’s true identity, especially through the relationship between the professor and the student, one can embrace his or her identity as a Catholic.
To truly embrace one’s identity as a Catholic, one must also embrace the concept of “the glory of God is man fully alive,” she said. “The Church must first be discovered before it becomes central to your whole identity.” When it is discovered, it is incorporated into one’s identity, just like how Christianity transforms culture, she explained.
Students appreciated the opportunity to hear Langan’s lecture. Evan Shoup, sophomore, said that the academic lecture “was a great articulation of the role of being a student at university, not caring about grades so much as to get in the way of your learning.”
This Friday Academic Lecture was sponsored by Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Department of Education.