Aidan Bender

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Hometown

Rudd, Iowa

Scholarships I received

  • Distinguished Scholar
  • Presidential Scholar
  • Theatre Arts Scholarship

Favorite Class

Inorganic Chemistry

Concept that Blew My Mind

The interdisciplinary nature of science. It is easy to try to separate physics, math, chemistry, biology, engineering, psychology, and the rest from each other and treat them as distinct worlds. However, this reduces God's complex creation and dulls our knowledge. Allowing creation to be messy and complex, where the hard, soft, and social sciences overlap and blend together creates a wonderful opportunity to appreciate God's handiwork.

Cool things I did at Dordt

I participated in theatre all four years, acting in four shows, designing lighting for five, and working in the scene shop for sixteen shows. The theatre department faculty were wonderful, and the environment they fostered have brought me many of the friends I know I will keep in contact with for years to come. I had a chance to intern at Diamond Vogel for two summers (2018, 2019) working as a lab technician. There I worked in research and development, learning polymer chemistry and the ins and outs of industrial design. I participated in the Purple Martin Writing Contest three of the years, and one year won first place in the Short Story category.

Obstacles I’ve overcome

Until the middle of junior year, I had little idea of what I actually wanted to do with my degree. Several times I pondered leaving Dordt altogether or switching my major. I felt inadequate, lost. With the help of professors and other mentors, I was able to find a place I feel that I fit. It was not an easy process, and it was incredibly, uncomfortably slow. Yet, it was incredibly worthwhile.

Who I was when I came to Dordt

 I would say that I held my beliefs too firmly. I was mule-headed and carried rather firm and unyielding beliefs about origins, the environment, politics, and theology. I was self-confident in my knowledge but incredibly uncomfortable with social situations.

How Dordt Impacted me

I believe my time at Dordt, through friendships and mentorships, changed me completely. Me from four years ago would not recognize me now. My faith and theology have been less reliant on knowing the "cold, hard facts" and more on trust and grace and empathy. My political awareness has expanded from rigid beliefs to a desire to set aside political ideologies to find similarities and empathy. In fact, I believe "empathy" and "mystery" are the two most important works that stuck with me through Dordt.

Where I am now

 I will be pursuing a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Utah. My fellowship there will allow me to take classes and work as a research assistant in a nuclear medicine lab. Their focus is on imaging and treatment for various diseases, including Alzheimer's and cancer.

What would you tell prospective students 

Learn to keep empathy at the forefront of your mind. Let an incredible amount of grace and understanding of others be the first reaction you have. Every person you will meet at Dordt has an incredible, complicated, broken, wonderful story. You will meet people you disagree with, people who are so entirely different from you. These differences do not make one of you wrong and the other right: they make you human. These differences are a chance to grow and learn. Seize that.

How Dordt has helped you Do More 

Through my professors and classmates, my studies have prepared me for a graduate program. Through my friendships and mentors, I feel equipped to engage with the world.