When looking for a college, common questions include: Will this school prepare me for a successful and fulfilling career? How will it affect the rest of my life? Will it really help me learn to live out my faith in the real world? Is it truly worth the investment? For answers, we asked six Christian college grads in a wide range of fields to tell us how their education prepared them for life after graduation.
U.S. Army Combat Medic
Joshua Peters ('02) had just started his senior year at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana, when the September 11 terrorist attacks sent shockwaves through the nation. In response, the Christian education major joined the military as a combat medic.
Joshua graduated, trained and was soon deployed to Iraq, where even seemingly small decisions like which road to take became matters of life and death. "It's very frightening at times," says Joshua of his service in Fallujah, Ramadi and Tallafar. "There are occasions where you see that God must have a purpose for your life because of the number of close calls he brings you through."
In those scary times, Joshua saw the blessing of having attended Taylor. "You have to have something to fall back on in those moments of tension and fear," he says. For him, those things were the steady love of his wife and family and the deep faith he developed at Taylor.
"In those college years, you start to make your parents' faith your own," he says. "If I had gone into combat with something that only my parents believed, I couldn't have held onto it."
Joshua had been skeptical about attending a Christian college, but went to Taylor at the urging of his parents. "I didn't realize how good I had it until I talked with friends who went to other colleges," he says. "I actually enjoyed going to class. My friends at other schools didn't. And my classes were small enough where I felt comfortable asking questions."
That environment helped Joshua develop a steady and growing faith. Joshua says his faith now enables him to be a better medic. "As a combat medic, you realize that you can't save everybody," he says. "But I've been the last person a lot of people saw, and I've had the opportunity to pray with them during their last minutes on earth. I think I was put there for a reason."
Leader in AIDS Relief
Some college students get autographs when bands visit campus. Jena Lee ('04) got a job.
Jena wanted to address the AIDS crisis in Africa. So did Grammy Award-winning Christian band Jars of Clay. After they met during her senior year at Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington, she drafted a proposal for how they could impact lives in Africa. And the band promptly hired her to do it.
As executive director of Blood:Water Mission, Jena quickly turned the nonprofit organization into a million-dollar ministry that has started 58 aid programs in nine African countries and brought clean water to 50,000 people.
Jena entered Whitworth as a nursing major but had a hard time connecting her science classes with her passion for social problems. Then a class on the integration of politics and faith opened her eyes. "I never made the connection that you can take what you're passionate about and live it after college," says Jena. "Whitworth gave me permission to dream and imagine myself living out my passions."
As a Whitworth student, Jena was involved in study trips to Mexico and South Africa, took a three-week cross-country tour to examine prejudice throughout the United States, and had many other cross-cultural experiences. All of these experiences equipped her to work well with many different groups and cultures. "Professors would take you outside of the classroom and integrate learning with real life," she says. "They were interested not just in papers, but in how you were processing the information."