So Tuesday night Drage was introducing our speaker for the week and mentioned that the speaker was one of the Top 10 Most Influential People in Drage’s life. This inspired me to do my own Top 10 Most Influential People list, which actually turned into my Top 15 Most Influential People list. So here we go (in kind of order of how long I’ve known them?):
1. Jesus Christ
Jesus is my Lord and Savior. He saved me from death by dying for me and gave me a new life. He is with me always, loves me for who I am, carries my burdens and guides my path. He is my Rock and the Center of my life, and I grow more in love with Him each day.
2. Jennifer Cochrum
My mother has been an amazing example of strength and care throughout my life. I have learned more things than I can possibly list from her and admire her for being strong in the past few years of strife in our family. Going from being a stay-at-home mom to a full-time physical therapist has not been easy for her, and I admire the sacrifices she’s made for our family.
3. Alan Cochrum
My father has always been an example of faith and knowledge for me. He took me to the library every Saturday as a child and instilled in me a love of words. He has been a spiritual pillar in our family, and I know I can always count on him to tell me where something is in the Bible. He is incredibly smart and an example of what I look for in a future spouse.
4. Jimmie Frazier
My grandmother took care of me frequently as a child, and it is from her that I learned many of the board games I fondly recall from my childhood. She is a strong example of motherhood and successfully raised seven sons and three daughters. I hope my family can be as loving and boisterous as hers is someday.
5. Morris and Bonnie Cochrum
(I know it’s kind of cheating to combine them, but 15 is a much nicer number than 16.)
My grandparents have been incredible examples of generosity and love. I have seen them give selflessly time and time again. Without them, I wouldn’t be at Mizzou, and for that I am incredibly thankful. I hope to be as generous and giving as they are someday and strive for that in my daily life.
6. Blair Cochrum
My younger sister, though she may not know it, has been an amazing example of faith in my life. She learned much earlier than I did that a deep, personal relationship with Christ is essential. While we were both raised in the church with strong Christian role models, she took hold of her faith before I did, and watching her has been a joy and inspiration. I can only hope to live as passionately for the Lord as she does someday.
7. Greg Pirtle
Greg was my youth minister from the summer after 6th grade until I graduated from high school and was present for a lot of my spiritual growth as a youth. He and his wife Alison were always supportive of me and believed in my potential. He will forever be a part of my fond memories of youth-group-filled summers, and I continue to look to him for advice and counsel even as a college student. Also I will never be able to read Acts 2:42-47 without thinking of him.
8. Taylor “Dismuke” Avaritt
Taylor and I met when she was 16 or so when my mom made me ask her to drive me to all our youth group events. We then bonded over her cool phones (she had a Razor before anyone else I knew) and cool cars (yellow Jeep Wrangler!) as she hauled me from our neighborhoods in north Arlington to youth group events in south Arlington. Taylor was always a role model and friend to me, even though I was just a young junior higher/freshman/sophomore while she was in high school. She was always encouraging and always strong in her faith, even at 16. I continue to look to her as a spiritual role model and frequently pull out from my Bible and reread an encouraging note she wrote me one summer while I was a camp counselor at Camp Goddard. Her friendship means more to me than she probably knows.
9. Bryce Avery
Bryce Avery, better known as the single musician behind The Rocket Summer, may seem like a weird person to include on this list, but his music has affected me deeply. I was first introduced to him in early high school by my best friend at the time Elaina and quickly became a huge fan. As each new able was released, I fell more and more in love with The Rocket Summer’s music and lyrics. His last album, Of Men and Angels, has been particularly influential in my life, as you all know, and I had the incredible pleasure of meeting Bryce this past March. It was a pretty awesome day in my life.
10. Brian Pellot
Brian may not have been the best peer advisor technically, but his role as a leader of my freshman interest group completely molded my college career and future aspirations. Without such an amazing experience with him in Mark Twain, I would not have become a peer advisor. Without working on staff in Mark Twain for two years, I would not have become a FIGs student coordinator or figured out that I want to work with college freshmen for the rest of my life. While Brian is a journalistic inspiration to most, he’s a ResLife inspiration to me.
12. John Murray
When/if John reads this/hears about this, I believe that he will feel incredibly awkward for making this list, but his influence is undeniable. If I had not met him in the third floor lounge of Mark Twain last April, I would not be anywhere near where I am today. He is the one who initially extended an invitation to The Rock, which has completely changed my life. He also fearlessly led the Mark Twain Canvas Group this past year, a group which has deeply affected me. His leadership there has and will continue to shape my faith.
13. John Drage
Although I have enjoyed the sermons of many preachers, pastors and speakers throughout my life, John’s have been an amazing blessing in my life over the past year. He is so passionate about college students and has given me a lot to think about and use practically in my life. I know I will remember ideas like “junk tapes” for the rest of my life.
14. Laura Denlinger
Laura also may not know my deep love and admiration of her. Laura came into Twain half-way through the year and instantly lifted my spirits in my PA position. She was undeniably adorable with her crafts, cardigans and librarian-wannabe husband. Her sunny personality and faith were a breath of fresh air during my difficult semester. Her background of journalist-turned-student-affairs-master’s-student was exactly the role model and story I needed to hear last spring. I continue to look to her as a guide and friend and hope to continue to be influenced by her next year, even if I won’t be on her staff.
15. Paul the Apostle
Paul is becoming more and more one of my favorite people in the Bible. He is just so cool. His faith was so incredibly strong and his desire to share the good news continues to amaze me each day as I read more of his letters to the early churches. His dedication to prayer has been particularly inspiring as of late, and I can’t wait to read more of what this amazing man of God has to say in the scriptures.