December 10, 2013

MISSION MATTERS: The Billiken's Wink: A Job Well Done

When I first came to Saint Louis University for a campus tour, it was not only an opportunity to learn about the Billiken mascot, but more a chance to look ahead to the stepping stones that have led me to this very point today as a senior. Everything we've come to know, whether it be our schools, the companies we've worked for or even our own families, they have a commitment to values and a mission that upholds those standards. When coming to SLU, it's been the mission that has embodied my own life — to how I live from the way I want to be remembered after walking away from the great city of St. Louis.

Now, you have to sit and think that the mission of the University has to be intertwined somehow with the Billiken mascot. To my dismay, as a university ambassador, there are many questions I get about what a Billiken is. Whether it's a replica of the Buddha statue, a caricature of the SLU football coach in the early 1900s or even the evil Mr. Swackhammer in Space Jam.

However, I see the Billiken as a mascot that is not only unique, but also as a promise in upholding the sense of community and values exemplified in the mission of Saint Louis University. With uniqueness comes a spotlight, a promise to uphold what makes you unique and stand out amongst the crowd.

In my eyes, Billikens uphold a commitment to service to humanity through our acts of kindness and charitable deeds, in giving back more than that which we receive. When there is such a large spotlight highlighting all those immense qualities that exemplify a Billiken, it's hard to look at a Billiken the same. Or to look at it without understanding what it means when it's winking right back at you. It's what drew me and others to this greater university because it's a quest I and other students have for pursuing the truth in our academics, faith and service.

When Billikens acknowledge the truth of their life mission and are committed to who they are and where they want to go, it's hard to restrain them to strive — to see what builds up their own identity.

When I think of SLU, it comes down to the ideals and values we all uphold as a Jesuit university. These ideals have empowered some students to follow their calling in faith, to be committed to social justice or to open the passionate fire in their hearts knowing SLU will help catalyze it from beginning to end.

At the beginning of this year, I made the commitment to my faith journey to join the Catholic Church and go through the RCIA program in Campus Ministry. It has opened my mind and heart to knowing how much the mission at Saint Louis University has played a role in my life for the greater glory of God. Knowing that when I receive that diploma and can say Saint Louis University will forever be my home, it will be because of the stepping stones in SLU's mission. It's made an everlasting difference from the moment I took that campus tour at SLU to soon throwing my graduation cap in the air come May.

Now, whenever I look at the Billiken, I know that its wink is a way to say thank you for embodying the mission that has defined you as a Billiken.

— Barrett Lanham, senior in the John Cook School of Business

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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