In the 2003 hit musical Wicked, there’s this wonderful song describing the friendship between the Wicked Witch Elphaba and Glenda entitled For Good. It has lyrics such as these, “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you, I have been changed, for good.” This play on words is Broadway gold, but I also think it plays into my own journey. The Duke Youth Academy changed me, in ways I’m still working out five years later.
I was left with theological questions and incredible friends, those are the two greatest takeaways I have from DYA, and I know both of those will haunt me for the rest of my life in the best way possible. I could speak of my friendship with Natalie, DYA ’10 when we ended up at the same university and program for our undergraduate degrees. I could speak of Patrick DYA ‘10 who ended up here at Duke Divinity School with me for my masters degree. Both of these people continue to challenge and comfort me to this day.
I won’t bore you with the theological questions the Duke Youth Academy left me with, but I do know this: These questions led me to seminary and to a greater vocational calling and understanding of my place in the world. So even amidst the questions, I have found sweet relief in knowing I’m not the only one in the world wrestling with the questions surrounding the God we worship.
All this is to say that Duke Youth Academy changed the trajectory of my life forever. To borrow and edit a quote from Wicked, “Who can say if the Duke Youth Academy changed me for the better, but because I went, I have been changed, for good.”