Brandon Wiley is a 2010 graduate of Gannon’s psychology program with minors in both sport and exercise science and theology. He currently works as a campus minister for Erie’s Cathedral Preparatory School and is a grad student in the masters program for community counseling. Check out how his studies in “body, mind and spirit” led him through his life after Gannon.

As I rested on the beautiful Virgin Islands, miles from the US and miles from the home where school and work waited for me to return, I pondered my life and the journey I have taken to get where I am today. The two books I chose to bring for the trip were “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and “Man’s Search for Meaning.” These books tell tales about adversity and prejudice, similar to what I have experienced throughout my entire life.

One story documents the prejudice against African Americans, which lead to the uprising of the Civil Rights Movement. Malcolm X, being a man of intelligence and class, strongly spoke out against the unfair treatment of the oppressed African American race.

The other book talks about concentration camps and people being stripped of humanity and dignity. Yet, it is still the story about the will of a human being and the powers one possesses. Both have similar themes about the struggle – when fear becomes a giant like Goliath and you become small like David. However, by reaching within to find the powerful spiritual being which the higher power has created, you can destroying the giant that stands in front of you. Just like most people, I can relate to this struggle.

Being biracial was not the easiest thing in the world to be, however, it has been the most beautiful gift. I have found fears – giants – waiting for me through every door I chose to walk into, whether it was hate or prejudice. These struggles stood there constantly facing me and at times bringing me to tears. Most of my life, I have been searching for meaning; a deeper purpose.

When I went away to college, my anxieties got worse. I was away from home and – in some sense – on my own. I began my Gannon experience by entering the seminary to discern whether or not I had a future in the priesthood. It was during this time that my spiritual life began to grow immensely. I was stepping into the unknown only to find that I had to face my fears and struggles. During my first year in the seminary, I did a lot of reflecting on my spiritual life and decided that priesthood wasn’t the path for me. However, I knew I wanted to continue my education at Gannon. Gannon provided me the knowledge and the resources to keep on searching. A lot of personal things happened during my college years, and it was then that I knew the essence of struggle, pain, suffering and hurt – all of which I found leads to love and happiness. It’s a crazy concept to think about and may be hard to grasp. The philosophy of my life is, “Et lux in tenebrous lucet,” which means, “And the light shineth in the darkness.” In my darkest times is when I have seen the light. It would be foolish to say that those fears and anxieties have vanquished because they have not. I realized that life takes patience and faith, a faith in yourself and in God. If you remain steadfast and rise every time you fall, then there is nothing to fear.

I decided to major in psychology and then adopt minors in theology and sport and exercise science. All three would end up being the recipe for my further interest. The focus of the mind (psychology), body (sport and exercise science) and spirit (theology) would be essential interests of mine and have pursued me to dig deeper. I have had inspiring and supportive faculty and staff at Gannon to help me focus, relax and continue to push on.

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