Malachi Wipper, of Pine River, is an example of how much a sense of purpose can change life.
This Pine River-Backus High School senior said it wasn't that long ago that he found himself in a position where the future was overwhelmingly uncertain.
" That's actually when I come to faith. And, you know, realized inside that, well, actually, there is somewhere I'm going, you know. I'm part of a really big plan and I can live by that plan. It'll satisfy me. "
— Malachi Wipper.
"I just felt like in my mind, I was convinced that there's nowhere for me to go. I'm not gonna go anywhere," Wipper said. "It was something that really terrified me. I just thought that after I graduated there'd be this big wall and I was going to find a place where I wasn't going to be satisfied. That just weighed on me a lot."
Malachi said he didn't outwardly show how lost he felt, but he didn't put as much effort into his schoolwork and he felt directionless.
He's since turned to his faith to overcome that feeling, and now all that's changed.
"That's actually when I come to faith," Wipper said. "And, you know, realized inside that, well, actually, there is somewhere I'm going, you know? I'm part of a really big plan and I can live by that plan. It'll satisfy me."
He's found direction now. He buckled down in his schoolwork and he knows what career he would like to pursue.
"It might be because of watching cop shows when I was younger, like 'NCIS,' 'CSI' and more recently 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine,' but I think being a detective and studying cases just sounds really cool," Wipper said. "I'd like to think I could solve big problems like that and put things together to come up with the right and accurate conclusion. And also as a police detective I'd be helping serve justice and that's something I really think is a good and noble thing to do."
Either his teachers didn't see his earlier indecision, or his about face was just that noteworthy, because the nomination letter by teachers Melanie Lindquist and Kristin Lindholm referring Wipper for the Students of Character Award doesn't reflect that indecision.
"Malachi is fiercely true to himself and incredibly kind," the nomination reads. "Even when he deserves most of the credit for a task, he is quick to share the spotlight. He’s intelligent and a self-starter. He’s committed to his faith and has a heart for service to his school and community. Malachi plans to study criminal justice at Central Lakes College."
Wipper's heart for service has been evident, after all, for some time. Traditionally, service has been a defining characteristic of the Boy Scouts of America, of which Wipper was a member until his sophomore year in high school. Of course, that service has only continued as his church life has grown.
"I enjoy service," Wipper said. "It can be tiresome at times because it can be tough work."
He hopes to keep that service-oriented perspective in his career and education. He'll put the scholarship he's receiving from Students of Character toward that education.
"I'm checking out this college called the University of Northwestern, St. Paul," Wipper said. "It's a Christian college. I hope if I go to college there or anywhere else it'll be somewhere I can really grow stronger in my faith and get to know people more closely. It won't just be a degree. I'll be doing other stuff as well."
Wipper is one of the few students who knew about Sourcewell's Students of Character before being nominated. Nominees are students in the region who are recognized for their quiet leadership, perseverance and dedication to their community, school and fellow students. He said he was surprised when he got nominated.
"I felt very honored," Wipper said. "I wanted to be humble. I never would have thought I would get this and I told some close friends about it and they told me I deserved it. Hearing that from them, I really appreciated it. I thought maybe I am making an impact on the people I know."
He especially appreciated what the honor represented.
"You can easily get noticed for academics," Wipper said. "But if you're known for the type of person you are and the type of person you're trying to be, I think that's incredible."
Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.