My LopeLife: How an accident impacted her purpose
Editor’s note: My LopeLife is a feature in which GCU students, staff and alumni share enlightening experiences. For Lydia P. Robles, that meant a major transformation after starting at GCU and then getting the opportunity to work for GCU Today in the two months before her graduation Friday. To be considered for My LopeLife, please submit a short synopsis of your suggested topic to [email protected] with “My LopeLife” in the subject field.
Story by Lydia P. Robles
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau
Life to me is all about purpose. What impact can I make on a person? What kind of person am I going to be? What impact will I make in the world?
Grand Canyon University made it possible for me to be the change I wish to see in the world.
There are two songs in this world that will forever make me cry — and when I say cry, picture a 6-year-old with a Dora haircut looking through a car window covered in stickers (sorry, Mom).
The songs are, “Imagine” by John Lennon and “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. The lyrics edify what the world and people should be: peaceful, united, beautiful and kind.
To me, it’s just a reminder of how far the world has strayed from God’s plan and God’s love.
What happened to the wonderful world God created? The trees of green are cut down, the skies of blue and clouds of white are replaced with pollution, and Lennon’s wish of living life as one is only divided.
That cliché, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” has never been more true.
In September 2020, I was in a car accident that easily could have taken my life.
I left home that day not knowing it might have been my last time saying “I love you” to my parents.
I left home that day to drop off a bouquet of flowers and a letter to my best friend on her birthday.
I left home that day not knowing it could have been my last day.
I was at an intersection turning left when a red vehicle raced directly at me. At that moment, my entire world stopped. All I could do was freeze as I watched the car speed into the front end of mine.
It is the worst feeling, preparing for the impact. Preparing to be hit. Preparing for what could happen or, in my case, not happen next.
My lungs filled with smoke, and I was barricaded inside by the disengaged air bags. I sat there frozen in disbelief, knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel. My hands traveled up to my face, chest and arms, inspecting the aftermath of the accident.
A loud hum of white noise overtook my hearing when suddenly a bright light fought through the smoke and reached for my hand, stabilizing it as I shook.
“Are you OK? Do you want to get out?” he said.
All I could do was nod my head.
“Do you want me to stay until your parents get here?” he asked.
“Yes please, if that’s OK,” I responded.
I’ve never relied on a stranger the way I did in this moment. I was overwhelmed by the kindness he showed me, kindness that came from a place of selflessness and genuine concern.
I’ve always described him as a lighthouse, a light in the midst of the fog — an angel God sent to give me comfort.
The world I would cry about as a child was restored by this one person.
His actions challenged me to be a lighthouse in someone’s life and reminded me how impactful one person can be — how impactful I could be.
I’ve experienced a lot of loss during my three years of college, whether it’s from natural causes or from growing apart.
The absence of a person can feel like an empty void, but there is beauty in that absence. It pays tribute to the uniqueness of an individual and leaves an imprint on your heart.
I’ve always been passionate about people, whether it’s friends, family or someone I don’t even know. Some people think it’s not possible to love someone you’ve never met, but it is.
It is God’s love within me that allows me to have compassion and love for those I’ve never met. A heart aligned with God is a heart that has an endless capacity of love.
The question after the accident was this: How could I extend my love for people into my career and truly be impactful?
God spoke to me with one word:
I made an appointment with my student services counselor that same day and switched my major to professional writing — a complete 180 from my previous area of study, molecular biology.
In every subsequent meeting, my counselor noted that I seemed much happier after making the change. And I was.
As my college career progressed, my vision for my future became clearer.
Flash forward to the summer before my last semester. College of Humanities and Social Sciences Professor Kimbel Westerson contacted me about a job opportunity with GCU Today.
She noted how GCU Today was interested in hiring a student worker who might benefit from this experience.
I instantly emailed her back. Well, to be honest, I sent three emails in fear that my initial one didn’t go through (sorry for the spam, Professor Westerson).
I went through the interview process and instantly felt at home. You would think that being in a room with writers who have been doing this for years would be intimidating. But when I saw the Queen collage on my boss’ desk, the product of an inside joke, I knew I was right where I wanted to be.
After getting hired, I was scared that I would not have the ability to do what I had been working toward for the past three years. I’d never worked in a newsroom — the closest I’d ever gotten to newswriting was for a class assignment that only my professor read, and now the whole campus community would read my writing?
I was worried that I would not be competent or good enough for this position. I was insecure about my writing and did not feel confident in my abilities. I was just a student who dreamed of getting a job in this field.
Seven articles later, I’ve met so many amazing people and heard some beautiful stories that impacted me. I hope my stories were impactful to them, as well.
What I love most about this university is how faith-based the campus is.
God is involved in every aspect of the university, and it shows in the staff, faculty and students.
I’ve been met with nothing but kindness, support and encouragement in this work environment. I am so blessed to have attended a university that believes in students like me and allows us to start pursuing our dream.
ABOUT LYDIA P. ROBLES
Lydia Robles is a third-year senior who graduates Friday with her Bachelor of Arts in English, Professional Writing. For the past two years, Lydia has been a lead vocalist at a family church she attended while growing up. During her free time, Lydia enjoys finding new coffee shops and exploring antique stores. As a creative person, she loves all forms of art, especially music, painting, drawing and photography. She plans to continue a career in journalism and hopes to become a broadcast journalist.
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