Zach Croonquist ’19, Psychological Science

Posted on November 9th, 2017 by

Zach Croonquist first developed an interest in science because of his first grade teacher, who made science fun and exciting. He says that “in first grade, I was learning more about science than I did in fourth and fifth grade, because she loved science so much”, and that she planted the seed within Zach to long and search for science. Zach’s grandpa also played a role in teaching him about science, as he sparked numerous philosophical questions regarding science within Zach. Through all of these learning experiences, Zach has discovered that science is not just a way to look at the world, but also is a way to transform our planet. Rather than just examining the nature of scientific information, he now asks “how can I use this to help people? As I get older, it becomes more and more about people, and how people interact with the world.”

Zach connects this interest in science seamlessly with his identity as a Christian, his characteristics as an individual, and his future vocational goals. Zach’s tenth grade teacher steered him in a people-focused scientific direction, telling him “you have a strong love for people and should do something like that.” As a psychological science major at Gustavus, Zach utilizes scientific information in studying how people work. “It’s so cool to have such an advanced science background,” he says. He can understand the way things are at a molecular level, and see how this plays into the overarching nature of being a person. Zach hopes to someday use his strength in connecting with others and his scientific understanding of the world in counseling, nursing, or seminary, where he can see the ways that science, psychology, and spirituality come together in each unique individual.

Zach believes “there is a God who created heaven and earth and sent His one and only son, [who is] the way and the truth and the life.” He explained that Jesus is the greatest example of service, peace, and living an inclusive life: His love didn’t know boundaries. Additionally, Zach believes in the Holy Spirit, or the being that works in our lives every day and is reflected in “God moments,” which Zach experiences in his daily life in moments of deep connection with others and the world. Zach also sees God in times of connection with others. When asked who has impacted him, Zach responded by saying “everyone I’ve ever talked to. Meeting them needed to happen, otherwise I wouldn’t be who I am.” Zach sees the Holy Spirit as having a direct role in the relationships he’s been shaped by throughout his life.

As a result of his faith, Zach is working on integrating love into his everyday actions. Zach believes that “the two greatest commandments are to ‘love the Lord and love your Neighbor as yourself’. He’s also learning to recognize and show others that loving others as yourself also means loving yourself just as you are, saying that “God created you, and you are a work of art; you are a holy temple.” Zach has developed a relationship with God in which he’s learned that recognizing and wholeheartedly repenting his sins is extremely important. He said “we cannot simply “move on” from sin, [because this] will lead into new sin.” He believes that since Jesus died for us, all of our sin is forgiven and God continues leading us into a life of righteousness. As a Christian, Zach says that we must recognize that our actions are not okay, but to remember that God wants good for us and is still here working with us. “God, I want you to keep working on that, what you started there,” Zach explains. “God is the common denominator that makes everything add up.”

One worldly scientific concern that scares Zach as a Christian is climate change. He says that “Pope Francis reminds us that we have a deep intricate connection with all living beings,” and we as humans are abusing and manipulating this relationship. Zach explained how our society values consumerism and affluence, which are both extremely detrimental to our planet and universe. “God intentionally designed every part of creation, and he called it good,” Zach says. He believes that as humans, it is our responsibility to be stewards of this creation as we are made in the image of God.

Zach’s vocation has been deeply influenced by his Christian faith, as it is centered around his desire to love others and care for them. He is eager to have the ability to help other people through his God-given gifts, and strives to bring Christ’s love into action during the current and future stages of his life. When asked how his vocation is informed by his faith, Zach responded by saying, “If you’re good at something, do something with it!” He believes that God created each individual with gifts that will lead them to serve the Lord and others in the most pure and loving manner. Zach’s story illustrates that through our religious identity, we can serve God and love others in any vocational endeavor we take part in, including scientific ones.

 

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