Published in the North Central Chronicle on September 28, 2007.
How does one lead an uncommon life? History shows that the greatest leaders are those who rise to the challenge of leading an uncommon life, a life unafraid of what comes next. Esther McCarty is one of those people.
Esther McCarty (’09) was born in Baguio City, Philippines. Her parents founded schools in the Philippines and in nearby Burma to teach music and Bible knowledge hand-in-hand with their humanitarian services. Esther attended an international school while learning Tagalog, the Filipino language. It didn’t take her too long to assimilate.
“I thought of myself as a Filipino.”
The McCarty family lived in the city but traveled extensively to rural areas to conduct medical missions in the north. The Filipino culture was moderately westernized, though facilities like showers had yet to develop beyond their indigenous design.
Esther was fond of living in the city, but she found true solace and beauty elsewhere. Esther vividly remembers a class trip into the Cordilliera Mountains to visit rice terraces that had long ago been hand-carved into the mountains for farming purposes.
“I find peace when I’m in the mountains,” she says. “They are so exquisite and majestic.”
The McCarty family returned to the United States for two years after Esther’s brother Jon was in a near-fatal motorbike accident. After his recovery, Esther’s father informed her that the family would be moving to Thailand. The move shocked her at first, but after living in Thailand for four years, Esther knew she had found her home.
“Thailand was more oriental, exotic, and mysterious than the Philippines. I feel that those years in Thailand were the most formative for me. I now feel more Thai than anything else.”
It was a twist of fate that brought Esther to North Central. She recalls getting a “crazy 80s-style promotional video from North Central College” from her dad during senior year of high school. The video itself didn’t win her over, though it was altogether humorous; it was the financial aid package that sealed the deal. Esther hadn’t as much as visited campus when she decided to come to North Central.
Like many first-year students, Esther got heavily involved in campus activities. During her first year alone, she was on the Hall Council for the New Student Complex, the finance committee in the student government, the Chronicle staff, and the tennis team. On top of that, she worked three jobs at once: in the Admissions office, at the Corner Bakery, and at Bangkok Village, where she still works today.
“I wanted to try everything,” she says.
But, like many first-year students, she burned out quickly. She quit two of her three jobs and her life eventually settled down. She is now an RA in Townhomes and a board member of the Uncommon Life Movement and Breakaway, student organizations that organize service trips nationwide.
Esther projects a strong spirit that is not concerned with what comes next, only with how she can help. She is never without a smile and a nice thing to say, and it is evident that Esther has found her stride in service.
“God created me to serve. I feel most happy when I’m helping people, and know people are my passion.”
An uncommon life, indeed.