Words by: Paul Uy
Young people who have their heads on straight are always hungry for means to learn, opportunities to become better, and a chance to get ahead of the rest in this dog-eat-dog world. Most of us try to look for a group of tight knit friends who will push us in the right direction through motivation and competition. We’re taking up higher education in order to equip ourselves with the necessary skills in our future careers and while we’re here we want to take what we can get. Now it only takes a UA&P Freshman a week before he or she hears of Opus Dei. As much as I would love to expound on the topic, Opus Dei is essentially a personal prelature of the Catholic Church that encourages the formation of young people to live their ordinary lives extraordinarily well. In a more direct context, it seeks to teach students like us how to thrive in our daily lives with the right spirit and a fresh new perspective on the situations we find ourselves in.
Amber is a word that carries weight in our university, we Dragons know Amber as a center of Opus Dei for young college men but it is common knowledge that Amber is also a brand. It is a brand in the sense that there have been generations of Amber boys who have walked the halls of our university leaving a very distinct mark on the memories of their schoolmates. These boys have managed to maintain a persistent presence in this small university and their identity has a tendency to evolve with the times. This leaves you thinking, what is it with these Amber boys and how do they fare when compared to the common misconceptions about them? To name a few of these common misconceptions, amber boys are seen as an exclusive club of highly prestigious student leaders, or a group of bad boys who smoke like chimneys, or a pack of adventurous hikers, or even a circle of goody two shoes nerds who just want to keep to themselves.
What all these misconceptions have in common is the notion that other students have to “fit in”. This cliquishness invokes a number of feelings among the student body. Students generally feel that Amber is a hub for the intellectuals, the pious, the cool, the musicians, or the generally well-known. These stereotypical cliques are reminiscent of our high school days which we all thought we had already left behind. They give some students the feeling that they need to meet a certain criteria in order to become part of the “club” or that they need to be better in order to avail of the means of formation. For a time this might have been the message that amber sent out, maybe there is some truth to the notion that there is a higher demand for students who are finer cut than the rest in hopes of their influence simply trickling down to the rest of the student body. It is widely acknowledged that Amber boys seem to have their lives figured out and that makes some students feel like they need to figure things out as well in order to join them. However, we have to realize that this certainty and sense of direction that their personalities exude is a product of the formation that they receive which is open to all who would seize it. It is important to note that they were not always the gentlemen that they are now, they had to work on themselves from scratch and they continue to do so. This fellowship of young men may seem exclusive for so many reasons, but in reality it only takes the willingness to become better in order to become an amber boy.
This brings us back to the initial question; what are these boys all about? Amber isn’t about fitting in, it’s about pursuing your life goals alongside people who want to do the same. When you surround yourself with people who are motivated and hungry for success you find yourself deciding between two kinds of reactions. You either lag behind because of your low self-esteem or you become even hungrier for success than they are, and formation builds your character in such a way that inclines you towards the latter. Amber boys are normal students who are obsessed with the idea of surpassing who they were yesterday and this entails a relentless effort on their part. Perhaps in their effort to do so, they created a competitive atmosphere that intimidates outsiders. But to think that they will not welcome a curious nobody just because he “doesn’t fit in” is ridiculous. What gives these normal students an edge that distinguishes them from the rest of the student body? The means of formation. Formation essentially adds the spiritual aspect to the equation of every college student’s life and that makes all the difference. Learning to acknowledge that God deserves a place in our lives has a profound effect on the way that we live. We start to think and act with more consideration and charity, we learn to be selfless. This is the distinct motivation and character that sets these Amber boys apart from the rest. Amber boys are a group of progressive hard working individuals but beyond that they are a family that continues to grow up to this day. So if you’re a boy and you’re hungry for self-improvement then why not give Amber a chance? Whether it’s a peaceful study space or just good company that you’re looking for, Amber’s got you covered!