Jacob Rychlicki is a Freshman at Roberts Wesleyan College and is studying Physical Education. His hobbies include fishing, hanging out with his buddies, and working out. New in his faith journey, Jacob is a Christian and attends Grace Road Church. Jacob has grown up in Caledonia, NY for his whole life and wouldn’t change it for the world.
While in quarantine, I can’t help but to think what a wonderful life Roberts Wesleyan College has given me. I grew up in Caledonia, a small town of 2,000 people and plenty of farms, but also just 20 minutes away from the place I now study Physical Education at. I wasn’t even supposed to come here, having my heart set on Houghton College for a majority of High School.
I believe fully that it was God’s doing that I landed here, and being a RA and First Year Seminar Mentor next year gives me the urge to write about how my Freshman year went and share that to any who want to read about it. So if you’re a freshman or a prospective student, take what you want from this. If you’re a current Roberts student or graduate, enjoy what you want from this.
I came into college fresh off a finger surgery caused by a tubing accident, so it was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because my parents and RAs brought all my stuff up for me, but a curse because of the constant doctor and PT appointments. Once all settled in, my floormates and I went to the variety show put on by the Student Life team put on. The idea of it sounded awful because stuff like that in high school either never happened or it was a flop, but this and the scavenger hunt the next day is where I met and formed a group of friends that I am truly blessed with. On a cute note, two good buddies met the night of the scavenger hunt and now are dating each other. So with that being said, don’t stay in your dorm room because you think it’s lame, because you are missing out on some fellowship that is unmatched.
So I started college, and at that time I was set on music education to be my major. Music had been, and still is, the one thing in my life that is constant, right under God being the main focus. I slowly began to reach a crossroads in my college life, something I didn’t think could happen. My grades in my music classes began slipping, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t bring them up. I then began to talk with my advisors and they were so understanding of the things that were happening, and they were so supportive of my final decision to change my major. Although I am a Physical Education major, I still am in chorale, taking voice lessons, and loving every moment of it. So don’t be afraid to change your major if you don’t think it’s going to work out.
Get out of your comfort zone, find your solace, and take time for yourself whenever you need it, because your mental health is important.
The last thing I wanted to touch on is to really take advantage of the opportunities this college has to offer. If you told my ninth grade self that I would become a RA, student mentor, physical education major, and frisbee player, all while being nicknamed “licki”, I wouldn’t even take you seriously. This college has something for everybody, and I truly mean that. Get out of your comfort zone, find your solace, and take time for yourself whenever you need it, because your mental health is important.
Alyssa Kear is the Executive Director and co-founder of The JMAK. She specializes in childhood education and writes primarily about spiritual life and productivity with a focus on introspection and self-growth. She is a sophomore at Roberts Wesleyan College. Marianna Schrack is an advocate for eradicating modern day slavery. She is the President of the RWC Free organization focused on educating, equipping and assisting our community in the fight against modern day slavery.
“Although anyone can be trafficked, there are people who are more likely to be trafficked than others, and those are the people who are of high vulnerability — that is in high-poverty places, individuals with less education, minorities.”
I had the pleasure of having an open and honest conversation with Marianna Schrack, a friend to many and an advocate of all. Hear what she has to say about human trafficking, its implications, why Christians should care, and how to practically get involved.
Alyssa- What led you to be passionate about human trafficking and how did you get interested in this?
Marianna- So the first time I heard anything about modern-day slavery, in general, was when I was about 12 years old. I had a youth leader who was really passionate about fair trade products, which is pretty much products that are ethically made and they are ensured that they are helping the community they are made in (people are not enslaved or being forced or coerced into working); so, that’s how I first heard about it. I am a very justice-oriented person, so after I heard about it I was just so frustrated and mad that it existed. So from the age of 12 and all throughout high school, I did research project after research project and I would definitely say my high school teachers were pretty annoyed with me!
Alyssa- What kinds of research have you done about this?
Marianna- In high school, I was very passionate about the mix of trafficking and the pornography industry and how those correlated. So, trafficking can look like labor trafficking or it could also be sex trafficking, which could be forced prostitution, but this also could be forced pornography. A lot of people sometimes think that it is just a gun being held to their head or things like that, but it is also through coercion or needs-based. Maybe not having a house, and then they are living with this person and this person tricks them into thinking they love them, or in essence coercing them into doing something because they don’t have money or taking their passport, depending on the situation. And so I’ve really looked into the pornography business because I really think that is something that not talked about in our world but is used by most people, especially as much as we don’t want to admit that, even in the church. And so, I really wanted to look at those underlying things because a lot of people don’t think pornography is harmful because it is individual-based, but when we are consuming stuff like that, it is also impacting the people who are forced to film themselves.
Alyssa- Some people might look at a problem like human trafficking and think “there is nothing I can do, ever, to help stop this.” Are there practical ways that people can help end human trafficking?
Marianna- I think the number one most practical way is simply being aware of it. That’s like any issue. If we just take the intentionality to become aware of the problems in our world, we can slowly chip away at them. I think personally one of the best ways for us to become aware is the organizations that are starting awareness campaigns. One of my favorites is A21 and they have a campaign called “Can You See Me?” and it literally has videos of how trafficking happens. So if we are able to name it, we are able to identify it and end it. So like, all of us have [had] teachers and been in classrooms. There are signs that you can tell. If you, a student, who used to have high grades and they start dropping, teachers should be aware that “hmmm.. There’s something going on in their life” and trafficking could be happening. I think a lot of the time we don’t want to admit that maybe it’s just family problems or boyfriend problems, but there’s a lot more that goes on behind people’s lives. Especially right now with COVID, there are so many people online. Predators are at an all-time high due to the fact that we know kids are online and we know children have to use the internet. So we know it is very easy for traffickers or even predators, in general, to access children and young women through the Internet.
Alyssa- Are there any other organizations you would recommend to follow or support that help to end human trafficking?
Marianna- Yes, the Set Free movement is actually who the club that I am the president of on-campus is partnered with, and that is a Free Methodist organization. I went on a mission trip to Bulgaria with them, and they promote advocating for victims of human trafficking and they have missionaries all around the world that [are] working with communities that have a risk with trafficking. There is also Exodus Cry which is one of my personal favorites. They do a lot with the pornography business and they have advocated a ton against PornHub. There are a lot of organizations like Compassion International that we use that sponsors children. I think a lot of Christians have heard of sponsoring kids before, but I think that is one way that we, very individually, can help. People don’t have the same opportunities as us. Although anyone can be trafficked, there are people who are more likely to be trafficked than others, and those are the people who are of high vulnerability — that is in high-poverty places, individuals with less education, minorities. We have the opportunities in other nations, as Americans, to use our wealth to sponsor children [so] the people in their own communities can use the money and raise them up so there is not a white savior complex with that. Generally, [we want] just the people in their communities helping them. Then, there are also opportunities for us in the U.S. to work with organizations here. Safe Harbor is one that is an anti-trafficking place. The Potter’s Hands is an organization that the honors program here in Roberts has worked with as well that has a safe home and other advocacy and awareness.
Marianna- It’s also super important to know the Human Trafficking Hotline number! Everyone should have that on their phone. It is 1-888-373-7888. When you are able to know the statistics and know the facts, you can report it. Period. A lot of the time, people are like “Oh, I don’t want to be wrong.” I’d rather have you be wrong than not report it. Also, you can post stuff on social media! A lot of those organizations I listed post stuff that we are able to repost. So just bringing our own awareness to our own platforms is really important.
Alyssa-How can people who are passionate about this get involved on campus?
Marianna- You can come to FREE meetings! That is a club that is on campus, it’s Christians against human trafficking. We meet biweekly. So, right now we are meeting Wednesdays 5-6 in Ellen Stowe. This semester, we have some fun things planned. Specifically, three topics we want to talk about on campus are the effects of COVID on human trafficking. And we’ve never done a session where we talk about pornography, and I think that has gotten a lot of recent attention in the news. So we want to do a meeting about pornography and trafficking and the connection. I am doing independent research for the second honors program on the intersectionality between race and trafficking [because] that is something that is not well researched. So we are going to be talking about that one night at FREE. For activities, we are hoping to do the “in your backyard” sticker search where we actually go put up the modern-day slavery and human trafficking awareness phone number in bathrooms and restaurants and stuff so that can get out there and known.
Maria Foti is a Sophomore Music education major. She serves as the Assistant PR Director for the Roberts Chorale. She has noticed the toll the pandemic had taken on herself as well as others, and wanted to rally the thoughts of peers to write this article on how music has changed, as well as what has remained the same.
I thank God every day that, as a musician, I can still do what I love.
Over the past year, we have all adapted to a world that we never could have imagined. As we watch our brothers and sisters toil through unprecedented struggles, the artistic community has grown weary of lying in wait for the day when we can all safely enjoy creating and consuming live music. In a time rife with artistic frustration, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s why we, The Roberts Chorale, have pursued a way to make music in a socially-distanced, safe, and enriching environment. It takes a lot of trial and error to develop a way to sing safely during a respiratory pandemic. When the thing you love most could be the thing that infects the people around you, it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of those around you. This process of developing socially-distanced artistic practices has involved a lot of trial and error. Sometimes it has been difficult and painful. However, the end result is something so beautiful and rich: true joy and worship. Somehow, the physical distance between us has brought us all closer emotionally, and I can truly say The Roberts Chorale is an ensemble that is connected like never before. We’ve always been a family. Now, we’re an artistic safe haven for those souls starved of musical worship. I could ramble on about the importance of music during a pandemic, but it’s not enough just to hear it from me. Therefore, Assistant PR Director Maria Foti has compiled an interview of chorale members from all different majors, class ranks, and viewpoints, to give a more detailed look at what it is like to be a musician here at Roberts during a pandemic. Each member of The Roberts Chorale has something important to share, and I think you will enjoy listening to their thoughts. Thank you, Maria, for putting this article together. It would not have been possible without your hard work, creativity, and dedication. I hope you all enjoy reading the thoughts of our members. We thank you for your time and support of the artistic community here at Roberts. Sincerely, Abbey Greene, PR Director
The Roberts Chorale Introduce yourself with your name, year, and area of study. My name is Orlando Boxx, and I am a Senior Vocal Music BA major and Marketing Minor. My name is Julia LeVan, I am a sophomore choral music education major My name is AnnaMae Humbert. I am a freshman nursing major. My name is Bailey Thompson and I am a junior vocal music education major. My name is Maggie Tatro I am a Junior Music Education major.
Before Chorale/College, what kind of experience did you have with music? What was your motivation to continue in college?
I have been singing since before I could speak. I’ve been in choir since 4th grade and went to Eastman Community Music School from 6th through 8th grade and then again Senior year of high school. I have done musicals as well, starting in 4th grade. I have also sung on worship teams, with a band, and sang backup on an album. I love music and I wanted to learn more about how to write music and to just grow as a vocalist and a musician.- O.B
I’ve done choir all throughout elementary, middle, and high school! It’s totally my happy place. I’ve also been a part of musicals for just as long. Music and teaching are some of my greatest passions, and I want to continue to serve the Lord in the way I’m best able! – JL
Music has always been an outlet for me. Next to God it is my life line so finding ways to stay involved with it as I move through life is important. I grew up around music. I started taking piano lessons when I was four years old and was involved in many different events for singing. I was in my high school’s choir, band, and jazz band. I participated in our schools musicals and I had the privilege of being a part of All County, Area-All State, and Conference All State choirs. -A.H
I was very fortunate to grow up in a suburban public school where music education was just as important as the main core subjects; there was never a year when I was not involved in some way, shape, or form. I was also very active in music at my church. I have continued with music in college because I realized my passion for music is a part of my purpose and have, therefore, decided to pursue a career in the performing arts. – B.T
Choir in middle and high school. My choir director was outstanding and really wonderful and supportive. He really encouraged me to pursue what I love which is music!- M.T
Although it can be difficult at times, what would you say are some of the hidden blessings of being able to gather and sing during this pandemic? Just being able to make music. A lot of things shut down, high level productions closed, so the fact that we are able to still get together and make good music is amazing to me. Also just community, having a group of people who know how it feels to sing during a pandemic and how it feels to be uneasy and anxious at times is a big comfort.- O.B
Singing is such a great release at the end of the day. I’ve loved gathering with the Chorale because, although we are physically separated, we’re singing the same things and it’s all kind of one big message that we’re still here and we still love each other.- J.L
To me music is a language in which all nations, all peoples know and understand. It is a connection; oftentimes the only way to express what’s on your heart or reach out to another’s soul. With the pandemic we are unable to give hugs, shake hands, high fives, etc. But in a way we can do this with music even though we are twelve feet apart. Which is something I greatly appreciate. – A.H
I thank God every day that, as a musician, I can still do what I love. When the world shut down, most of us thought that music would just stop. Unfortunately, it did for a while, but we have bounced back safely and are discovering new ways to learn, rehearse, and perform. In all honesty, we’ve made the best out of our circumstances and have used the pandemic to help develop our skills and relationships with one another.- B.T
Being able to still create beautiful sounds with people I love is amazing. I love choral music and I enjoy the creativity that has been forced through the pandemic. -M.T
How have you found that your passion for music and Christ has strengthened through the events of this past year? Trials are some times when we are able to see how God works most clearly. Through this year I’ve been able to see more clearly God’s provision in my life and I’m able to experience His presence through singing.- J.L
God reaches us and talks to us in many different ways for different people. I believe that one of his methods of getting my attention or reaching me is through music. Last semester being my first semester in college, along with the pandemic had made things quite stressful and I felt burnt out most of the time. However in chorale there have been lyrics that I feel God was speaking to me through that reminded me of his strength, and his presence, and to cast my worries and fears onto him. – A.H
I think everyone can agree that it’s been a really tough year for us all, but in the midst of a storm, there is light. I’m learning to trust God more and appreciate the blessings that are given to me for what they are, rather than what I personally want out of them. Music is such a beautiful gift and we, musicians or not, often take it for granted.- B.T
My gratitude has been strengthened during this time. It’s easy to get caught up in the “why, God?” mentality, but in reality the fact that we’re able to sing and perform and worship and fellowship together is such a blessing.- M.T
What would you say to students who want to get involved in Roberts Music who may be uneasy/nervous due to the current state of the pandemic? How would you encourage them? What has helped you push through? As President my top priority has been making sure everyone feels safe during this pandemic, yet welcomed into our family. We have taken extra cautionary steps to make sure that we are following all COVID guidelines. We are all in it together and we have been able to make amazing music through it all, and grow extremely close as a choir. I’ve been able to push through because I know that I have other people supporting me through it all. – O.L
Oh my gosh don’t worry!! Roberts has been super duper safe, I haven’t lost any of the relationships I’ve formed due to the pandemic, and the fact that we get to sing together at all is rare and wonderful. We’re all here to help each other get through and so that knowledge of a safe support group has helped me get through it. Literally come we would all LOVE to have you!- J.L
Trials are some times when we are able to see how God works most clearly. Through this year I’ve been able to see more clearly God’s provision in my life and I’m able to experience His presence through singing.
Do it. Plain and simple. In my opinion it is better to try something new sooner rather than later. That way if you really enjoy it you will have more time to participate and experience it, and choosing to be some part of music activity at Roberts is a choice you won’t regret. Especially with the pandemic, Roberts music is a great place to socialize and spend time with others while still being safe. As a Nursing major coming into the realm of music at Roberts via Chorale was intimidating, however everyone is incredibly welcoming and kind. The atmosphere is hardworking yet fun, and it’s a nice break from having my nose in biology or anatomy & physiology text books all day. – A.H
The music department here at Roberts is so welcoming. I would even go so far as to say that The Roberts Chorale is my second family. What we do is not easy, especially during a pandemic, but making music with talented students who are even better people, all for the glory of God, is something worth fighting for and working hard towards. Safety and the physical health of each member come first, but emotional and spiritual health are close seconds. Knowing that each and every single member of this group will support me through thick and thin makes all the difference. I would not have made it through this season of life without my relationship with Christ, music, and the community that is The Roberts Chorale.- B.T
The Roberts music community is the best you’ll find as far as spiritual and emotional support. There is so much love and community here and support. Our musicianship and character are cultivated by the community and it’s wonderful. – M.T
Thank you all for reading this article on how the pandemic has affected us, and thank you to everyone who continues to support the Roberts Chorale from within our choir as well as in our community. It is because of hard-working individuals that we are able to continue rehearsing in a safe and socially-distant way, in hopes that soon we will be able to sing again in a world post-COVID. Blessing, Maria Foti
Alyssa Kear is the Executive Director and co-founder of The JMAK. She specializes in childhood education and writes primarily about spiritual life and productivity with a focus on introspection and self-growth. She is a sophomore at Roberts Wesleyan College.
“[The] freedom we have is the opportunity to find new life in Jesus by following His word. Freedom is faithfulness.”
Every July, we eat hotdogs, watch parades, and view spectacular fireworks in the sky to commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence many years ago. We celebrate the initial freedom that the American colonies had from Great Britain’s rule. Freedom is surely something to celebrate.
Freedom in the geopolitical sense is great, but only on the macro level. What about people’s hearts, minds, souls? Is there freedom to be discovered there?
Yes! There is freedom found in Jesus. This freedom is rooted in God’s absolute and perfect love for us. He loves us so much that He decided to take the burdens and effects of our sins upon himself by sending His son Jesus to the cross to die a criminal’s death. By doing so, He liberated our souls from the crushing hold of our sinful nature. As Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
Being free, in this sense, does not mean the capability to go wild for our fleshly desires or to do whatever we want without penalty. Actually, this freedom means quite the opposite. Freedom found in Jesus means life that is “free from the law of sin and death” because of the price Jesus paid for us (Romans 8:2). Because of God’s work of sending His son to spare our very souls, we are called to be obedient to Him. Being obedient to God means going against our sinful human nature – called our “flesh” in scripture – which has the potential for us to make dangerous and destructive decisions.
I think it is so important to note that while writing about freedom in Christ, Paul mentions “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal 5:24). So in actuality, this freedom we have is freedom from being stuck in our sins and being condemned to death. This freedom we have is the opportunity to find new life in Jesus by following His word. Freedom is faithfulness.
We must be careful, however, because this freedom that Christ has provided for us is not something to misuse or take lightly. Multiple writings in the New Testament make it clear that the freedom we have as Christians is not to be used to “indulge the flesh” but is to be used to “serve one another in love” (Gal 5:13). Though we have the physical ability to do anything with our freedom in America and in Christ, “not everything is beneficial” or “constructive”; what is beneficial is doing all we do for God’s glory and seeking the good of others (1 Cor 10:23-24, 31).
I hope we make the choice to find freedom. Only in the Father is true, eternal freedom found. God assures us that there is so much more for us than the sins that hold us down. Now feel free to go light some fireworks. Take time to celebrate what Jesus has done for you!