Empathy and Mystery

A picture of Aidan Bender

Aidans’ four years at Dordt prepared him for a graduate program, and his friendships and mentors equipped him to engage with the world. Aidan is grateful for the opportunities at Dordt that helped him make friends and gain experience. He acted in four theatre shows, designed lighting for five, and worked in the scene shop for sixteen shows. The environment fostered by the theatre department brought Aidan many of his lifelong friends. He also participated in the Purple Martin Writing Contest and gained internship experience working as a lab technician for Diamond Vogel.

After graduating, Aidan pursued a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Utah, which focuses on imaging and treatment for diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer. However, it was not an easy process to get there. Until his junior year, Aidan had no idea what he wanted to do with his degree. He seriously considered switching his major, or leaving Dordt altogether.

“I felt inadequate, lost,” he explains. “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.”

One of the biggest changes that Aidan experienced during his time at Dordt was becoming more open-minded and flexible. When he arrived at Dordt, he held his beliefs firmly and stubbornly, refusing to consider other views about the environment, politics, theology, and other issues. By the time he graduated, Aidan’s experience changed dramatically.

“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.”