Since I was in high school, one of my greatest joys has been reaching out my hand and guiding the generation coming up right behind me. I’ve been blessed with numerous mentors who have taken me under their wings and changed the trajectory of my life, so it has long been my mission to do the same. There is something special about receiving love and wisdom from someone just ahead of you in the journey. Entering into adulthood can feel overwhelming at times, but knowing you’re not alone in the struggle can make all the difference.
Between 2019 and 2022, I worked in Education, primarily as a High School English Teacher. I loved spending my days with students, building relationships with them, and cultivating a strong community of diverse voices inside the classroom. It was here I witnessed the power of someone feeling seen and supported by at least one individual. I saw students experience tremendous growth and overcome great obstacles because they had someone in their corner.
In 2021, God began putting college students on my heart. I truly believe college is one of the most pivotal seasons in life since this is when young adults are asking important questions and deciding who they want to become. My life changed at age 20 when I unexpectedly had to leave my dream school to seek healing from a crippling anxiety disorder. After spending months in both spiritual and mental health counseling, I realized I was putting my identity in all the wrong places. My self-worth depended on what I could do instead of who I was, which kept me hustling for the approval of others. I’m now grateful I crumpled underneath the pressure because it led me to discovering the truth: I am a child of God, chosen and dearly loved just as I am. Subsequently, I found freedom from anxiety and emerged from this season a more healthy and whole human being.
Therefore, I wasn’t surprised that I was feeling called to serve college students, but I had no idea what that would look like. Then I received the opportunity to join IFI as the Tempe Ministry Leader and it all began to make sense. I hold a deep appreciation for other cultures and love to learn from people who don’t share my worldview. I took a gap year in college and traveled to Ecuador, India and Zambia, so I’ve also experienced what it’s like to be pulled out of my comfort zone and into an entirely different way of life. While living abroad, I was blown away by the radical hospitality I received from strangers who became family. They gave me a home away from home, and showed me the beautiful gifts we gain through living in deep community with people of varied ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds.
There are more than 15,000 students from over 135 countries studying at Arizona State University, making it the #1 public university chosen by international students. It is my goal to make them feel welcomed, supported and celebrated as they adjust to a new culture and chapter in life. I see myself as a bridge between international students and a loving community who will walk alongside them as they navigate the murky waters of adulthood. No one should have to do this alone, but many do. Fortunately, the solution is simple. One friend, host family, or local community group can change a life. My mission will not be complete until every international student at ASU knows they belong and has a place to call home.