Student Profile: Ian Banks '20
St. Louis, MO
If you visited Covenant College, what first stood out to you about the community?
The professors startled me with their hospitality and welcoming spirit. They were considerate and interested in me even while I was just a visitor. Over a weekend long visit, I had to opportunity to get to know one professor in particular that has led to a friendship despite the fact that I have not had a single class with him.
Why did you choose Covenant College?
I chose Covenant because I wanted to go to a place where I could be academically challenged and formed into a better Christian. Covenant offered the chance to develop myself as a person while not hurting my graduate school chances, even when compared to highly ranked institutions around the country. When I realized that I could get an excellent education of both my mind and spirit, I could not turn Covenant down.
What aspect of Covenant College do you like best?
The hall community is second to none. While I study a lot and spend many hours working, the best part, hands down, of Covenant is the community that develops out of the residence halls. Every hall has a unique character and culture that allows everyone to find space where they fit in. These provide ready made groups of friends who can support you through the inevitable struggles and elations of life in college.
What has been your favorite Covenant College event and why?
While Founder’s Music Video is tons of fun and I love Jazz on the Overlook, 80’s skate night (SK80s) is my favorite event. SK80s lets us dress up, be goofy and get foot loose for a little while. It is a great time for both roller skating but also dancing and hanging out with friends after we all return from Christmas break.
How does residence life add to/support your academic goals at Covenant College?
My hall was the first group of people I met and got to know at Covenant and they became my brothers. I have grown intensely close to the guys who live around and alongside me (I even got to be a groomsman in a wedding this year). But residence life is more than just hall life. Every residence building also has events that bring out that building’s individual character and let residents enjoy themselves. Living with several hundred Christians who are all around your age allows for opportunities to have tons of fun but also some hard, necessary conversations that engage the most difficult parts of life in a fallen world.
Which professors have most impacted the way you think and why?
Dr. Zuidema has taught me more factual knowledge than nearly any single other person and he has become a mentor in the field of Chemistry. He has shown me that chemists can, in fact, make very good theologians. Dr. Davis has shaped the way I view philosophy, reading, and argumentation. He has given me an example to strive after for moral discipline and a good metric for thinking about ethical situations from a Christian perspective. Finally, Dr. Green was one of my first friends at Covenant. Even before I was a student, I was able to find him to be engaged in my comments and curious about my life. He showed me that professors can be your friends and not just mentors or instructors.
What do you most enjoy about your major?
I love to do lab work. Even when we are working with rare or dangerous substances, we get to discover something new and wonderful about God’s creation. It is an incredible feeling to work on a reaction for weeks and to finally see your product sitting in a flask at the end of all your work, research, and mistakes.
How is Covenant equipping you for post-graduation life in your area of study?
Aside from a demanding course load, Covenant has positioned me to have access to a variety of internships, research opportunities. This came through opportunities that my professors made me aware of. Moreover, I have had the opportunity to work as a Teaching Assistant to Dr. Zuidema. Being able to tutor, supervise labs, and work alongside a professional chemist is a rare opportunity that I would not have in a larger program.
Can you give an example of how the core classes affected your other classes?
The core curriculum is very useful for developing general knowledge and becoming a more rounded student. As a product of my humanities distribution I am a better writer and because of my social science distribution I am a more informed voter. But it also helps in specifics - in my general physics course, we discussed the origin of various scientific theories, tracing them back to Medieval and Renaissance philosophers who I was familiar with through the CHOW (Cultural Heritage of the West) program.
How is Covenant equipping you for active membership in the church?
Covenant has done a fantastic job of preparing me to be an active member of a thriving church. Professors encourage students to take advantage of the Sabbath and many do not assign any tests or quizzes on Monday to allow students to rest on Sundays. The professors, administration, and the student development staff all encourage active involvement in a local church and many students take advantage of the wonderful churches in the area. Last spring, I officially joined Rock Creek Fellowship where I have been attending for more than a year and a half. The local church is a tremendous blessing and Covenant strongly pushes its students to take advantage of that blessing.
How have your relationships at Covenant shaped your expectations for the other communities God will call you to in life?
After being at Covenant, it can be difficult to have realistic expectations for other communities that I am involved in. When I am at work or even as I look to a future career, there are only a tiny number of places that could possibly rival Covenant as far as the strength and vibrancy of the community. While I may expect to find a few close friends and wonderful companions to encourage me in my faith, to find as many as I have found at Covenant is simply too unlikely to expect. This is not to say anything about the condition of the world as much as it is to say how incredible the community at Covenant College is.
What’s your favorite way to spend your free-time on or off campus?
My favorite way to spend my free-time is to visit Mean Mug, my favorite coffee shop and cafe, for the afternoon with a close friend or two. We get to enjoy wonderful coffee and tea and simply rest from the busyness of our schedules or work to get ahead on our various assignments.