Ndunge Kiiti is changing the way Houghton students engage the world. Herself a Kenyan, Kiiti takes a group of students to Chilimarca, Bolivia, each May to participate in a healthdevelopment program run by MAP International. For three weeks, aspiring health workers come alongside community members to promote transformation, and they are challenged and changed. Kiiti befriends international students and encourages campus discussions of global issues. She also takes classes to development conferences in Ithaca, New York, and Washington, D.C., and has participated in events like a 60-mile walk in Philadelphia to raise awareness about breast cancer. "God is doing something bigger than we can imagine," Kiiti says. She urges her students: "Take your passions and ask how you can join him."
Gene Fant, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Union University, Jackson, Tennessee.
Since becoming dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Gene Fant doesn't spend as much time in the classroom as he used to. But that doesn't stop him from building relationships with students. "My philosophy is to get kids to see how God's calling for them is often larger than what they have dreamed," Fant says. Fant helped one student get into the Los Angeles Film Studies Center, while another studied at Oxford for a semester, thanks to Fant's encouragement. Other students have followed his advice to use their majors in missions work. Fant sees students take risks for the gospel, doing things they didn't think possible, "It's a pretty significant epiphany for [students] to have," he says.
Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, J.D., chair of the public policy department, William Jessup University, Rocklin, California.
Sosamma Samuel-Burnett has served as a human rights fellow to the U.N. and has conducted U.S. and Latin American advocacy conferences on a host of social issues. She puts her credentials to work for students, all the while making sure that spiritual formation and character development are priorities. She has helped students work with programs like World Vision and International Justice Mission, and, as chair of her church's global missions program, she gets to share about her work in India, Zimbabwe, and Israel. Samuel-Burnett regularly leads a spiritual formation group for freshmen, which focuses on issues of service, prayer, and evangelism, to assist their integration into college life. And as student government adviser, she mentors students to represent the student body, teaching them what it means to be servant leaders.
Encouraging Excellence beyond Worldly Success
With the guidance of these educators, students have excelled at their endeavors, knowing they have a mentor who's invested in their success.
Charles Bressler, Ph.D., professor of English, Houghton College, Houghton, New York.
A mentor and friend, Charles Bressler is known as "Brother Charles." He begins each class session with a devotional thought, and often converses with students over shared meals or coffee. One student says, "By stepping out of his role as a professor to offer advice on faith and friendship, he has positively shaped how I think about my relationship with God and the way I interact in community." Bressler recently led young scholars on a journey through the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. These students discovered how committed Bressler is to their academic and spiritual growth. They earned rave reviews for their work at conferences in Boston and Oxford, England. While rejoicing in their success, Bressler reminded the students that their work ultimately brings glory to God: "We don't study literature for the sake of literature, but where appropriate, we will voice the Lord's presence in literature and laud his work in the world."
Cathleen Shultz, Ph.D., dean of the College of Nursing, Harding University, Searcy, Arkansas.