From Graduate to Fellow
by Rachel Palekas
There was a three-month break between my graduation from Liberty University and the start of the inaugural class of Peninsula Fellows, and it felt like a lifetime. Not many people talk about the weird limbo of post-grad but pre-career life, but sometimes it felt like an early mid-life crisis. Every recent college grad knows the question well: “So what’s next?” Explaining to classmates, family, family friends, and just about anyone that I was moving to the peninsula of Virginia to start a nine-month program where I get a job, but not a full-time job, take some classes, but not a full load, and be in community with four strangers gave me some strange looks and a lot of “oh, well, good luck!” responses.
As I packed up my car and drove the 6 hours up to the Peninsula, I had not only a trunk full of my worldly possessions, but also four years’ worth of baggage from my college experience packed up with me. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was walking into: I didn’t have any certainty of a job lined up, I was moving into a family’s house that I had never met before, and I had four other Fellows (aka more strangers) with which I was going to be thrown into intimate community. I was clinging desperately onto the hope that my Father had a unique and significant purpose for me in Yorktown and praying that He would make the transition one of joy and peace.
Fast forward three weeks, and I’m busier than I ever thought possible, I’ve had vulnerable and intimate relationships form (over Enneagram memes and viewings of Spy Kids and National Treasure), and the Lord has whispered reminders of His love to me in so many different ways already. One way the Lord has really shown me His love for me has been through my growing relationship with my mentor. We’ve already spent hours just talking (mostly me ranting and her graciously nodding along) about anything and everything. She’s listened to my anxieties about building relationships and the baggage I’ve brought with me, she’s gracefully given me advice and reminders that I serve a God that loves me and knows me well. When I felt especially anxious about a number of different things, she reminded me of our enemy that prowls around, waiting like a lion for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), and prayed intentionally against him. I was nervous to have someone we were asked to sit down and be extra vulnerable with, on top of all the other new relationships we’ve been building, but I have already been so blessed by it and I’m so grateful that it’s a built-in part of our program.
All of that said, any of my free time now is spent reading one of six books for class or making myself yet another cup of coffee (ask any of the other Fellows about my caffeine addiction) so I can stay awake to keep reading, but I feel so confident in the fact that the Lord is preparing us five Fellows for something so great this year, and I’m grateful to be strapped in on the first row of this roller coaster ride.
About the Author
Rachel graduated from Liberty University this past May. She grew up moving around with a military family, but calls Columbia, SC home. She studied Psychology and Biblical studies and is working this year with Bay Aging to develop Dementia Friendly Communities, a national initiative dedicated to creating supportive communities for those with dementia and their caregivers. She’s a proud Enneagram type 4.