Just four short years ago, the Class of 2017 began their journey at George Fox University. Today, they’re heading out into the world with diploma in hand, ready to make an impact in the boardroom, on the mission field or wherever else in life God calls them. Before they left campus, we asked some of our most outstanding graduating seniors to answer a few questions about their experiences at George Fox, how they’ve grown and what the next steps in their lives will be.

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Dominick Fix-Gonzalez

Dominick Fix-Gonzalez

Hometown: Aloha, Oregon
Major: Sociology (minor: political science)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I had an overall great experience at George Fox University – an experience where I had to master my skills of time management and prioritization with all that I had on my plate during college. I had to persevere through work, school, football and my military service – all at once. In addition, I learned about the Lord on an academic and spiritual level, which has strengthened my relationship with him.

I was able to receive an amazing education and degree, which will carry weight in the real world, as well as play the sport that I love at a high level. George Fox definitely delivered an experience that kept me busy at all times. More importantly, it exposed me to a world of different views than my own.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Playing football here allowed me to develop myself physically and mentally, as I grew stronger in physical strength and in skills such as leadership. These experiences also helped propel my career in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and while working for the Olive Garden and the Beaverton Police Department.

I have grown as a Christian, as a United States Marine, and as a man. George Fox has helped me develop into an educated and well-rounded man who has the ability to analyze and problem-solve at a high level. I am now fully prepared to lead Marines and, one day, police officers at a law enforcement agency.

What’s next?

After graduation, I will be moving to Southern California, where I will become a police officer and continue my career as a U.S. Marine.

Grace Packer

Grace Packer

Hometown: Kenmore, Washington
Major: Sociology (concentration: global and cultural studies)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

In only two short years at Fox, I found a home away from home. It provided me with the space to find myself, to discover what it means to truly be in relationship with God and with others around me, and what it means to be a part of a community that wants to make people feel known. George Fox has been a place that has challenged me to be inquisitive, thoughtful, creative and confident in all that I do. I am so grateful to have been as involved as I was, working in multiple offices on campus, including the registrar office, the IDEA Center and SpIL. Each is full of genuine, caring individuals who have greatly influenced who I am today. Most of all, I will forever remember the community that I found here and the people that I will leave behind.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Growth is such a significant part of this season of life, and I believe that it’s the reason I have found so much vibrancy in the midst of the mundane routine of school. I have more confidence in my abilities as a student and as a soon-to-be professional. With the encouragement of some amazing faculty and staff, I know there are people around me who believe in me, care for me, and have a desire to see me succeed in life. It is with these powerful voices in my life that I am stronger and more hopeful than ever before, and I believe that my time at Fox has positioned me in such a way that I know that wherever God takes me, he will use me to fulfill his purpose.

What’s next?

I have accepted a paid summer internship with Murdock Charitable Trust in Vancouver, Washington. There, I will be working as an event-planning intern and potentially do some research for them as they seek to study the different organizations they serve in the Pacific Northwest. I am hoping this internship could lead to a potential job opportunity, whether with the organization itself or with one of the various nonprofits they work with. However, I am actively searching for opportunities to learn more about how I can best utilize my skills and talents, whether it be through a graduate program in the near future or working in higher education (which I have fallen in love with during my time at Fox). No matter where I end up in the next few months, I look forward to the adventure that God has in store for me.

Imani Njoki Kamau

Imani Njoki Kamau

Hometown: Nairobi, Kenya
Major: Economics and philosophy (double major)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

It was a rough start having been so different from home, but soon it became a home. I will remember the people. The professors have had a big impact in my life. They have taught me to think deep and wide. They’ve challenged me by educating me and believing in my abilities. The friendships I've been blessed with have bolstered the level of confidence in myself and, above all, in the power of Christ to work through people. Getting involved in various ways has helped cultivate my leadership abilities. George Fox University is definitely an environment of inspired people. I will miss everything about it – even the Oregon rain.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I remember my second semester of freshman year. I was in a communications class and decided to do a presentation addressing the stereotypes people have of my continent, Africa. Surprisingly, for the first time, I felt like people cared about what I had to say. They listened. That day changed my entire attitude at Fox. I was no longer alone. I was no longer just looking forward to the end, but I became more interested in the journey, too. Suddenly, friendships grew deeper, and I felt I was here for a purpose. The critical thinking skills I’ve gained from my philosophy courses have also helped me become more open-minded. My economics courses have ignited my passion for economic and social justice. I feel empowered spiritually, socially and intellectually from my entire experience. I hope to keep moving in the same direction even when I am no longer at Fox.

What’s next?

I plan to pursue a graduate degree in public policy and eventually a law degree to gain the tools I need: an excellent education, great influence and a reputation among the Kenyan – and even global sphere – that can work wonders in implementing positive change in public policy to reinforce integrity and transparency in the government. My goal is to see the day that the African continent is seen in a better light by the rest of the world. More importantly, I’d like to see more people live beyond just survival. Thus, I’ll work toward the eradication of extreme poverty worldwide for the sake of promoting justice and the gospel.

Heather Danielle Rockwell

Heather Danielle Rockwell

Hometown: Junction City, Oregon
Major: Communication arts (minor: Christian ministries missions)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Being at George Fox has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. I have met incredible people, both on campus and abroad, who have challenged the way I view the world and taught me important lessons about life, love and what it means to be a communicative being. My experiences at George Fox have forced me to see people and creation in new ways, pushed me outside of my comfort zone, challenged my sense of self, reinforced my passions, encouraged my dreams, and prepared me for this crazy new thing called adulthood.

I have loved every minute of my time here, and the idea of moving on is bittersweet. Parting George Fox, for me, will be such sweet sorrow (to quote the similarly sentimental Shakespeare). I dearly love all of the friends that I’ve made, the courses I’ve taken, the trips I’ve been on, the books I’ve been challenged by, the professors who have supported me, and even the people who have helped me exercise patience. I am thankful for each and every experience I have had here. From Taco Tuesdays with my fellow comm majors, to trying escargot in France with new friends, the memories that I’ve made in college are priceless. Every experience I had at George Fox, every person I met, has shaped me into the person I am today, and I am forever indebted to them (literally, but also metaphorically).

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I cannot even begin to count the ways in which this university and the people I have met here have changed me. Throughout the last four years I have learned how to live into my strengths, accept my circumstances, and address my weaknesses. I have learned to trust God, embrace vulnerability, and pursue my dreams. I have learned the value of meaningful relationships and love-centered service. I have learned the importance of human connection, empathy, and communication. Most importantly of all, and most cliché of all, I have gained the tools needed to become the person God wants me to be.

I came to college as an immature, bubbly, confused, ignorant, passionate teenager following her dreams, and I am leaving as a well-rounded, joyful, motivated, empathetic, passionate adult following her dreams. So little has changed, and yet, so much has changed. Everything that has changed, however, has changed for the better. Though they have been difficult years, full of the many growing pains brought by transition and learning, I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

What’s next?

After this, I am setting foot on the open road and going wherever life leads me. I have no current plans for graduate school, although I would not turn down the opportunity should it make sense in the future. Right now, I hope to get a job working for a local nonprofit organization where I can put my love of helping others and my communication skills to good use. In the future, I would love to be running my own organization, speaking at conferences, publishing books, or traveling the world in order to love people. Whatever I do, I want to do it wholeheartedly; I want to love my career, and I want to make a difference in one small way or another. Making a difference in the world may seem like an impossible dream, but I believe that we should never be weary in working toward the impossible. Whatever amount of good that we are able to accomplish along the way is better than no good at all.

Ben Delaney

Ben Delaney

Hometown: Lynnwood, Washington
Major: Computer science (minor: mathematics)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

When I was searching for a college, I looked at many schools with a Christian, personal atmosphere and at many schools with a strong technology program, but I found a rare combination of both in Fox. Four years of a fantastic experience – in and out of the classroom – has validated that choice. Over half of my graduating computer science classmates scored above the 90th percentile in our industry-wide readiness test, and every faculty member in the department knew each of us by name. I’ve truly experienced the “Be Known” promise from the professors I've spent the last four years with: I go to church with one, I’ve run a half marathon with one, and I discussed my post-graduation plans with pretty much all of them. 

In addition to the outstanding faculty, I built great relationships with my fellow students. I lived with some, worked with some and am engaged to one. The emphases on faith, community and academic excellence, which are so prevalent at Fox, have provided a firm foundation for some of the most enriching relationships in my life.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I’ve done a lot of growing up during my time at George Fox, and this supportive, positive community has shaped who I’ve grown into. I’ve been surrounded by great role models and like-minded peers who have helped me mature and ease me toward launching into the “real world.” I feel ready for whatever is next, and I look forward to learning how I’ll continue to grow, beyond the foundation which Fox has built.

What’s next?

I just started work as a software developer at Circle Media Inc, and I couldn't be more excited. Circle builds great products that give parents control of, and insight into, how their families use the internet. I was a kid not that long ago and know firsthand how the internet can be both an amazing tool and an unfortunate distraction. As Circle grows, I look forward to helping give parents even more effective and nuanced tools to make the internet a positive experience for the entire family. 

I’ll be writing software as part of a small team, which will offer a chance to make a big impact and take on lots of responsibility quickly. I have the pleasure of working with several fellow George Fox alumni who contribute to an encouraging, collaborative company culture. That culture especially drew me to Circle as a fantastic place to learn, grow and launch my career. One week in, I’ve already written production code in a programming language I’d never seen before (something that the varied technologies and high expectations at Fox prepared me for well). I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for the company and my role in it.

Monica Martinez

Monica Martinez

Hometown: Rocklin, California
Major: Exercise science and psychology (double major)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I have experienced a huge amount of personal growth during my four years at Fox, and for me, this is a place that I will always call home. It is a place where I have been encouraged by so many people and realized that, really, the sky can be the limit. As a student with very big dreams, my professors always did their best to help me, while making sure I was realistic. There are so many things that come to mind when I think of my time at Fox, like going to psychology professor Chris Koch’s office to ask him for help when I was trying to figure out future career plans; Byron Shenk making hot chocolate for me while I was taking an exam in his office; visiting Steve Grant just to say hi or talk about graduate school; or having the opportunity to attend fancy dinners with President Robin Baker.

I’ve been blessed to have had so many amazing opportunities through George Fox, and the most impactful person during my undergraduate experience has been Chris Koch. He’s always been there when I wanted to talk about neuroscience and psychology. He helped me set up my job-shadowing experience, explored graduate school options with me, researched career plans, and helped make my double major possible. Chris is already busy enough as a professor and the head of the psychology department, so it means a lot to me that he has taken extra time to help me with very important things that come up in college.

Through my experience, I have learned that building connections with your professors is important because you learn so much from them and their experiences. Taking initiative when things get tough and continuing to work hard in school pays off in the long run.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

The biggest turning point for me at George Fox was freshman year, when I suffered multiple concussions. Everything in my life came to a sudden stop, and life as I knew it changed drastically. I struggled through school and wasn't even sure I would be able to make it through the school year. Sophomore year was a struggle mentally and physically; I could no longer play softball, and I was doing the bare minimum to simply get through classes. Later that school year, I discovered that I wanted to pursue an exercise science major in addition to my psychology major. Junior year, I added exercise science so I could apply to physical therapy graduate schools the fall of my senior year. Without my faith, hard work and perseverance – and the support of my family and professors at this school – I’m not sure if I would be where I am today. It’s amazing to look back and see how God perfectly worked everything out for me, even though it was not easy. I honestly cannot believe I have graduated!

What’s next?

After graduation, I am incredibly happy and blessed to say that I will be staying at Fox, as I will be attending the George Fox Doctor of Physical Therapy program! My goal is to one day become a physical therapist for people with brain injuries. I want to be one of the best doctors in the country for individuals struggling with brain injuries because I have experienced it firsthand. I desire to find new ways to rehabilitate people who are struggling the way I have over the past few years and make a difference.

McKenna Popish

McKenna Popish

Hometown: Portola, California
Major: Exercise science

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Life transformation. Those two words powerfully summarize my George Fox experience as I have been pushed mentally, academically, physically and spiritually to become a person equipped to launch successfully into my future. In addition to the wonderful friends I’ve gotten to know, I have my professors to thank for this. The two professors that pushed me the hardest at Fox are Dana Bates and Todd Curtis. They both played pivotal roles in my learning, albeit in very different fields of study. I also would like to thank all my past cheer coaches, and especially Michelle Berg, who took our cheer team in this year and helped us achieve more.

Being a part of residence life my last year of Fox was also pivotal. What I will remember most about residence life are the people that I got to interact with. I had the opportunity to make the most memorable friendships with the most caring and sincere people I have ever met.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

While here at Fox I have grown mentally and spiritually. Mentally, I have been pushed past the limits of knowledge I thought possible and have been taught to integrate what I learn into real-life situations. This is something I am excited to use as I work toward becoming a physical therapist. Spiritually, I have learned all about the love God has for me and those around me. I am excited to see how God will use my passions for physical therapy for his glory and to help others.

What’s next?

Shortly after graduation, I will be marrying the love of my life, Brecken Esper, whom I met my freshman year at George Fox. I am very excited for this new adventure God has for us. I’ve also been accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program here at George Fox, and I am very excited for this opportunity that God has blessed me with. I am honored to continue working for God and glorifying him in all I do.

Sean E. Robertson

Sean E. Robertson

Hometown: Hillsboro, Oregon
Major: Psychology (minor: Christian ministries)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

As cliché as the "Be Known" promise has become, it has been absolutely true. I'll never forget my professors in my first spring celebrating and honoring the birth of my second son. They moved exams for me, they allowed him to come to class when he was sick, and they held him as the precious child of God he was. Being a veteran on this campus was at first unnerving. I was an older, different student compared to my peers, but the professors continually invited me into deeper relationship with them. This has had a major impact on my future career, ability to relate to others, and desire to show empathy.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

One metaphor by an influential professor sticks out. Our life, he proposed, looks and behaves much like our beautiful quad in response to the changing seasons. Winter, in particular, is a pithy time. Plants lose their ability for outward growth, and the leaves and the flowers are long gone. Bright, flashy colors no longer bless our visual sense, but underneath, the tree is not dormant. Roots dig deeper and deeper into the soil to anchor the tree and to provide the vital source of nutrients and water the leaves and flowers will need during the future seasons. If it were not for the infrastructure and support grown during the harshness of winter, neither the glory of spring blooms nor the majesty of autumn would be a reality. George Fox has not been an easy time for me. My family and I have sacrificed a great deal for me to graduate with honors. My wife quit her job to move here, my son left friends behind when he moved schools, and I scrounged for the space to see them. The harsh times of winter seemed to be everlasting. Yet, we have grown our roots deeper. Spiritually, we have grown in our relationship with God and each other. Physically, my sons have grown – one is a captain on his baseball team, the other an aspiring Buzz Lightyear. George Fox University will forever be the place my children, my marriage, and my vocation were nurtured to maturity.

What’s next?

Next year I begin doctoral training in clinical psychology in George Fox’s Doctor of Psychology program. I plan to eventually work with populations that are systemically underprivileged. In the past, I have worked with people that abuse substances, experience homelessness, and lack strong familial support systems. These populations normally are either originally at-risk youth or veterans, both of which are a part of my personal story. My goal is to provide mental and relational care to these people through individual and group therapy.

Alan Rojas

Alan Rojas

Hometown: Williams, Oregon
Major: Mathematics (minor: Spanish)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

What I enjoyed about George Fox was its small-town feeling, but big enough to find your niche. I have met the best friends of my life here and really learned a lot. Some of the most impactful people have been my first roommate, Jonathon, my wife Raychel, my advisor Nick Willis, and my boss Jere Witherspoon. Each of them has been very encouraging and brought joy to my time here at Fox. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Though not everyone comes to Fox because of faith, me included, I remember vividly the moment I went from searching and wondering about God to finding him present in my life. This realization was greatly in part to my friendship with my roommate and the welcoming atmosphere to question and understand faith. In addition, I have learned so much about theory and applications of math, as well as improve my Spanish, to the point I feel very prepared for my future as a teacher. 

What’s next?

My future plans include obtaining my Master of Arts in Teaching, moving back to Southern Oregon, starting a family with my wife, and visiting Costa Rica (my birth country) every chance I get. 

Lauren Gilham

Lauren Gilham

Hometown: Chehalis, Washington
Major: Psychology

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox was phenomenal. I am sad to end my time as an undergrad here! Each of my professors was caring, patient and kind, and so very knowledgeable about the topics they were teaching. The relationships I built with professors, staff and students around campus are unlike any other relationships I have had, and I will miss Kris Kays’ birthday celebrations in class and hearing Robin Baker's good-natured teasing whenever I see him.  

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I have grown a lot since walking on campus for Welcome Weekend four years ago. Although I am still an introvert, I am no longer quite as shy as I was then, and am overall a more confident person. A lot of this has to do with the encouragement I received from my RA my freshman year; my work-study supervisor, Kathy Rosenbohm; and my academic advisor, Kris Kays. I learned a lot about what I am capable of and was challenged by these women to challenge myself and explore new experiences.

What’s next?

I am continuing my George Fox education this fall, as I enter the school counseling master’s degree program at the Portland Center. I am currently interning with a counselor at a local middle school here in Newberg, and am looking forward to a future career serving students who need extra support in a school setting.

Taylor Dick

Taylor Dick

Hometown: Amity, Oregon
Major: Politics

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I think some of my fondest memories at Fox have come from freshman year. I lived in Edwards Hall, and the people I met there have become some of my closest friends. Over the years we lived together and spent time together. The people here who convinced me to get out of my room and start socializing are the people who have had the biggest impact on my life.

I learned a lot at Fox, both in and out of the classroom. I learned how to interact with people more effectively, and I learned when I should speak up and stand my ground. I have learned so much from the students and faculty here. I also learned the importance of being intentional in my faith and in my relationships.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Before coming here I was extremely shy and lacked confidence. I struggled to have conversations with anyone I didn't know. The first year at Fox I ran for an ASC position. I started spending time in the dorm lobby and being social whenever I could. Though I never made it into ASC, and my social life slowed after freshman year, I continued to make the time to be relational. I am thankful for this safe environment that allowed me to grow in confidence.

I have grown so much in my faith as well. In high school I didn't have many friends who were practicing Christians. Being in an environment that is Christ-centered has fostered and grown my faith. I have had to learn how to put my faith fully in God and trust in him completely to get through stressful events and illnesses. I have appreciated being able to be completely open about my faith and have discussions with the others around me. I will always be grateful for the environment that allowed this growth. I wouldn't have been able to get this at other schools.

What’s next?

Right now I am interning at the House Republican Office in the State Capitol, I’m hoping to continue working in the building. I love the work that we are doing there and hope to be a part of it for a very long time.

Kristen Brown

Kristen Brown

Hometown: Quartz Hill, California
Major: Athletic training and psychology (double major)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experiences at Fox have been both challenging and rewarding. Learning about the human body, mind and spirit through a combination of athletic training, psychology and general education courses has expanded both my knowledge as well as my desire to enter a helping profession. Although my classes have significantly contributed to my experiences at Fox, they are not what I will remember most. I will remember the deep conversations after class. I will remember a professor praying with me before a stressful interview. And I will remember the numerous times professors were vulnerable in order to convey difficult subjects. I am grateful for each and every one of these experiences, as they have helped me grow in my own understanding of the world, where my part in it lies and how to trust in God in difficult times. 

Several of these experiences were made possible because of close working relationships with professors. I am especially grateful for the professors in the athletic training department because they have helped me grow both personally and academically in the past four years. And it is these relationships that I will look back upon when thinking about my time at Fox. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I have grown a lot since coming to Fox, especially in the area of self-confidence. Granted, my personality hasn’t changed all that much. I am still the shy person who doesn’t enjoy small talk or initiating conversation; however, I am much more willing to get out of my comfort zone and be placed in personally challenging situations. Much of this is due to professors who fostered a balance between challenging me while providing a safe and encouraging environment. One example that stands out would be being placed in charge of clearing the sports medicine center before football practice, so basically kindly yelling at 20-something football players to “get out, please” or “we love you, but get out.” This was so out of my comfort zone at the time that I remember always thinking of ways to conveniently be gone when it needed to be done. Had it not been for the close relationships with my professors, I probably wouldn’t have done it. And although I didn’t enjoy it at the time, looking back, it allowed me to find my voice and learn to assert confidence in myself. This was an important lesson for me at the time, and I can see it being extremely important during my first few years post graduation as a young professional.

What’s next?

I am extremely excited about a summer position that I have accepted with a drum and bugle corps, The Cadets, as their head athletic trainer. After the summer, I hope to return to the greater Portland area in hopes of finding an athletic training position. I am excited about the next chapter of my life and look forward to whatever challenges it may bring!  

Victoria Freitag

Victoria Freitag

Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon
Major: Economics (minor: French)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at Fox has had markedly different seasons, checkered with challenges and opportunities for growth. It’s quite difficult to summarize these last four years, because I feel like an entirely different person than the girl I was when I first moved into Hobson Hall in the fall of 2013. I remember how I envisioned college back then: full of adventures, a supportive community, and the best friends that I’d ever make. For a while, I thought that college was going to be a disappointment and that I had set my expectations too high. However, looking back and at where I am now, it’s evident that my experience at George Fox surpassed my wild expectations. I’ve developed strong relationships with my teachers, visited 10 different countries between a semester in France and Juniors Abroad, and made the deepest, most honest friendships of my life so far.

Above all my adventures, I’ll remember (and miss) the people of Fox the most. I’ve learned that there is a sweet strength in vulnerability, and that sharing a little bit of your own struggle can go a long way in helping someone else through theirs.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

The biggest change in my life has been where and how I determine my value. In my early years at Fox, I saw my value as a function of who I was in relationship with. When my relationships failed, I felt like my value fell. I would try to bring it back up by going on crazy adventures (thus the summer I spent working in Yellowstone), or focusing all of my attention toward my grades. Now, I am constantly reminding myself that my value was given to me by God, and is not augmented by my own accomplishments. This new identity has helped me toward peace and patience, lifting a large burden off of me that I used to think I could carry on my own.

What’s next?

As a perpetual planner, it’s difficult for me to only focus on one step at a time, but that’s the way I want to take things for now. I have a few certain plans and a number of ideas for what could follow. I’ll be spending the summer continuing my current position in the City of Beaverton Community Development Department. I’m leaving Oregon in late August to spend four months studying urban planning and economics at Korea University in Seoul. 

After I return, I may look for a job in state or local government, volunteer for AmeriCorps, or enter a graduate program for urban and regional planning. I’ve also thought about enrolling in a teaching certificate program to teach English in South Korea if I really enjoy my time there! I have a lot of ideas of what I could do with my life to help create inclusive and welcoming communities, so I’m going to try my best to be attentive to God’s direction and timing.

Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson

Hometown: Newberg, Oregon
Major: Engineering (concentration: mechanical engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

At George Fox I was able to grow more into the person God wants me to be. I have gained confidence in myself and my abilities, and I am excited to take those skills into the workforce. I will remember the way my engineering professors both challenged and supported us, and held us to high standards. The people who had the biggest impact on my time here are the people I did student government with, as we worked together to create a great George Fox community. I learned how to make others “known.”

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I have learned what servant leadership means, and how to be humble no matter your role. One of the big turning points for me was when I ran for student government and lost. I decided to still be involved in a smaller role and came back the next year to win the election for student body president. I learned to persevere and to use failure as a learning experience and as motivation.

What’s next?

I am heading to Europe for three weeks with two other George Fox friends. Then I will come back to take a job as a building automation engineer in Beaverton.

Raychel Rojas

Raychel Rojas

Hometown: Grants Pass, Oregon
Major: Nursing

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience here at George Fox has broadened my worldview and has shaped me into a more devout follower of Christ. Becoming a nurse here has changed my life in a way that I never expected. As a freshman just out of high school I didn't know what to expect from college classes, but as the nursing program continuously challenged me with exams and competencies I began to rely on my faith and on God more and more. This trust in God has given me the opportunity to genuinely feel that coming to George Fox and becoming a nurse were all a part of his plan. The nursing faculty has had the biggest impact on my life, pushing me to become a more passionate and successful nurse. I have also really loved running cross country and track here. The blessing of being on a team of girls who loves each other and loves to run has shown me what hard work is and how to have fun while doing it. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

The biggest way I have grown is believing in myself that I can follow my dream and help others along the way. A turning point for me was junior year. This is the hardest year of the nursing program, and many times I felt that I couldn't do it, but I continued to pray and have faith that God wants me to be a nurse. This was my fuel during the hard times, and having a cohort of friends to experience the hard times with made all the difference.  

What’s next?

The time after graduation is very exiting and oftentimes uncertain, but I plan to find a job in the Portland area for a year and then continue on to graduate school to become a family nurse practitioner.  

Jalane Jara

Jalane Jara

Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Major: Biology (concentration: cell and molecular biology)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

George Fox surprised me. I didn’t know what to expect from a small Christian university in a town I’d never heard of. Looking back now, I feel overwhelmingly blessed to have had the opportunity to study and grow in such a close-knit community. I’ll always remember my daily walks through the quad greeting what felt like the entire campus, listening to the old hymns of the clock tower, and sitting on a bench taking in the natural beauty of a rare sunny day. My experience might sound simple, but it was the little things that made my time most memorable: Faculty who went the extra mile to not only share their knowledge, but also their lives with us; friendships that not only pursued fun times, but also a love for Christ; and lastly, academics that challenged us to not only learn, but learn to serve.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

My last year at George Fox has really been a testament to a lot of personal growth and change that has occurred. Four years ago, I would never have imagined myself traveling abroad extensively, balancing multiple jobs to support my way through school, or serving leadership roles on campus. For someone who had many fears about the future starting out, I’ve had the privilege of seeing myself not only embrace the unknown, but also grow deeper in faith as I allowed God to guide me through it all. I remember entering as a freshman biology major having no idea what I was getting myself into, but quickly finding myself pushed beyond my self-imposed limits to what I could learn, yet at the same time supported each step of the way by professors who cared to know my name and story. The combination of my science degree and liberal arts education, I believe, has helped me develop a unique skill set and worldview that definitely makes college so valuable and the future that much more promising.

What’s next?

After graduation, I will start work as an outpatient medical scribe while preparing to apply to grad school. It will be nice not to rush into more school right away and instead get some real-world experience and quality time with my ever-growing family. I’m also excited to finally plan the mother of all international adventures – a journey back to my birthplace of Arsi Negele, Ethiopia, where my family and I emigrated from over 16 years ago. Ultimately, I’m looking forward to seeing where God leads me, and in the meantime, enjoying each day as it comes.

Victoria Harris

Victoria Harris

Hometown: Newport, Oregon
Major: Social work and Christian ministries (double major)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

As the first in my family to attend college, the only expectations of university life that I had were given to me by popular culture and social media – images and scenes of raging social lives, on-campus events, and rolling out of bed to attend 8 a.m. classes in your pajamas. Everything seemed exciting, but also limited in depth. My experiences at George Fox have both met these expectations and far surpassed them. Over these past four years I have gotten to observe the thoughtfulness and joy with which Fox students and faculty plan and provide on-campus events that support the interests of students and encourage them to make meaningful connections with their peers. I can't count the amount of times I have barely gotten out of bed in time to attend my 8 a.m. classes. Yet, while these experiences have met the expectations provided to me, there is one area where Fox far surpassed them all: No interactions – whether with peers, professors or even cafeteria greeters – are lacking in depth. Everyone here has a desire to make and maintain healthy, Christ-centered, deep relationships with one another where our hearts and minds can be well-known. I will be forever touched by the moments, big and small, when I was able to connect with the wonderful people of George Fox University and have my life improved by the wisdom, laughter, tears and community they shared with me.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Attending George Fox has been such a transformative experience. Before classes started, all the way back at our Genesis registration, all incoming freshmen were given the book Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle and were encouraged to read it in preparation for our time at Fox. In this book, Father Gregory talks about how man's greatest flaw is that we have forgotten that we belong to one another. Reading that passage about a month before fall semester of my freshman year marked the beginning of a deep transformation in my heart that has taken place over these past four years. Time and time again, in my classes, interactions, internships and friendships, I have learned and been transformed by the idea that we are all deeply connected and belong to and among one another. Before I began attending George Fox I felt like an outsider among my peers, trying to build an identity for myself. I now know that I undeniably belong where God has placed me and that I have unique identity and calling.

What’s next?

As I have studied social work and Christian ministries, I have really developed a passion for working with youth from a strengths-based perspective. My goal after graduation is to get a job working with at-risk youth, preferably incarcerated, LGBT or parenting teens, mentoring and empowering them to see past their circumstances and the negative labels that society has given them to reach their true potential as well-loved, inherently valuable, and as contributing members of society and the kingdom of God. After many years of direct work with at-risk youth, I hope to join the Oregon Legislative Assembly and create policies that will transform the education system into an environment where all students can be supported and thrive.

Kara Chambers

Kara Chambers

Hometown: Redmond, Washington
Major: Social work and Spanish (double major)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

In my four years since coming to Fox, I haven’t necessarily taken the common path. I ended up spending a year in the Andes region of South America in the middle of my time here, interning with Word Made Flesh in Bolivia and then studying abroad in Peru, and came back feeling pretty disoriented. But I was greeted again by such a loving community and really began to deepen my experiences as a social work student and, this past year, going back to dorm life as an RA.  

Maybe the sentiment that sticks out the most in reflecting on my time here is simply gratitude – for the space to grow and the relationships to encourage me in that journey. So many members of this community have had a deeply profound impact on me – dear friends like Corrie Mahr, mentor figures like Matt Dyment, professors that have challenged me like Lizz Schallert and Erin Johnson, and so many others. As a social work and Spanish double major, I’ve felt that George Fox has given me the opportunities, resources and support to learn on a practical level how to walk alongside some of the most vulnerable amongst us in a genuine and, hopefully, helpful way. It’s been a humbling process for me personally, but given me even greater confidence in a good God that both hurts and celebrates with us.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Thinking back on first coming to George Fox as compared to where I’m at now, there has been a pretty surreal amount of growth. Perhaps one of the greatest takeaways, though, has been to remain rooted in my identity in Jesus and who I’ve been created to be foremost. It would be pretty easy to find my core identity as a social worker, as an RA, as a student, as a friend … but all of that fades at the end of the day. That was pretty shaken when I came back after a year of being pretty integrated into my South American communities. Not only was it a culture shock coming back to the U.S., but even more so in coming back to Fox; most folks expected me to pretty much be the same, but my experiences there really rocked my sense of purpose and self-understanding. God was faithful to use that time of reintegration to bring me back to those roots, though, and seek new growth back here in this context. I’ve particularly seen this in my growth in confidence as a social work practitioner, specifically in my role as an advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors from the Latinx community in Portland this year. 

What’s next?

This next season holds some pretty radical life shifts. In the fall I will be moving to El Alto, Bolivia, to join the Word Made Flesh Bolivia team as a social worker. Our organization there is committed to walking alongside survivors of prostitution in that area, and I’ll particularly be working on developing some relational group supports for women that are experiencing sexual violence. I’m stoked to see the ways that Jesus shows up in this transition; I fully expect it to be heavy and difficult work, but I also know that God’s pretty good at taking care of me and bringing joy and community wherever I land. I’m pretty pumped for the adventure ahead – even if it is a little bit hard to breathe at 13,000 feet, the mountain views are worth it!

Austin Cole

Austin Cole

Hometown: Clackamas, Oregon
Major: Engineering (concentration: civil engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox has been everything that I had hoped for when I decided to come here in high school. I will remember the community that I’ve been a part of and the friends that I’ve made. The education will be something that I appreciate as it pertains to my career, but the lessons that I’ve learned extend far beyond the classroom, and I learned from many more people than just my professors. A couple people I'd like to give a little praise to since they will also be leaving this year are my academic advisor, Dave Pollock, and my current boss, area coordinator Sarah Taylor. Both have provided substantial guidance over the past year in my search for employment after school, my preparation for getting married the summer following graduation, as well as just working through the day-to-day issues that come up when you’re a college student. They have always exhibited such patience and grace in their instruction and guidance, and I am ever grateful for the lessons that I’ve learned from them. One lesson I’ve learned is it’s OK to push yourself and to risk failure, because you really do have to risk it to get the biscuit. College is a fantastic place to take risks by meeting new people, trying new things, embracing new cultures and ideas, and extending yourself further than what you thought you could. George Fox has provided me with the opportunity and the capability to do all of these things, and I am a better person and more prepared for what lies ahead because of it.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I have changed quite a bit during my time at Fox, beyond just growing a beard and learning how to dress slightly better than I knew previously. My time here has taught me the value of vulnerable, sincere relationships with others, and that God never intended for us to go through life alone. I think that, all too often when I first started here, I tried to go about everything alone, particularly in my schoolwork. But during my sophomore year in engineering I was forced out of my comfort zone and into a vulnerable place of asking others for help. Although I thought this made me weak at the time, the relationships that I made as a result of reaching out to my classmates and working with them made me stronger than I ever could have been alone. This has bled over into my social life, too, as I am far more willing to put myself out there and to engage others than I ever was before my time here. In short, I think that George Fox has given me confidence in my own skin and taught me that if you want to go far, you need to go together.

What’s next?

Following graduation, I'll work at AKS Engineering & Forestry as an entry-level civil engineer in their Tualatin office.  I'll be living in the Tigard area and continuing to attend my church in Sherwood. In addition, I'll be getting married to my fiancé, Laura Werhane, in August of 2017, and we'll start our own crazy little adventure together! In the future, my sincere hope is to live a secure life and to provide for my family as well as I possibly can, and to continue to push myself to achieve great things whether it's in my career, in the church, or within my community.  I'm not sure exactly how it will all work out and I don’t have a set plan, but I'm confident that with the support of my future wife and my family, and, most importantly, God’s direction, I'll be able to live a happy and healthy life.

David Guild

David Guild

Hometown: Damascus, Oregon
Major: History and politics (double major)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been a journey. From coming in as a freshman, nervous and wary, to graduating as a senior confident and knowledgeable, many events have shaped and developed me to make me who I am today. Of all the things that have happened, I will most likely remember the spring break track trip to Santa Barbara the most, as I was able to connect with my teammates and coaches in a way that can only be done by playing beach volleyball all day and then sleeping on a church floor all night.

Of everything I learned at George Fox, the most important has been to approach people, politics and history with an open mind, being strong in your convictions, but also hearing and understanding the alternative arguments. Central to this development has been the history and politics department, which has the best professors on campus (although I will hear arguments for others). I will always remember each and every one of these professors and the role they had in my education and understanding of the world. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I do not know if it is possible to remain unchanged through any college experience. During these formative years, I became an adult, maturing spiritually, mentally, and physically, all due to the people I have met at George Fox, the professors I have studied under, and the liberal arts education George Fox provides.

What’s next?

I will be enrolled in the full-time George Fox MBA program this next year. Being a part of the program will help diversify my knowledge base and skill set, as well as give me the opportunity to compete in track one more year. Furthermore, attending business school and having an undergraduate degree in history and politics will help distinguish me as I apply to law schools, the next step in my education. After law school, I hope to practice as a lawyer, maybe opening up my own practice. Further down the road, I hope to enter the realm of politics. 

Chelsea McCombs

Chelsea McCombs

Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon
Major: Politics (minor: international studies)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I chose to attend George Fox because I loved the idea of going to a small, Christian school away from the city where I could, as cliché as it sounds, "be known." My expectations have been exceeded over the past four years. I will always remember the amazing experience of traveling to Europe on Juniors Abroad. Walking through the Roman baths, visiting Stonehenge, standing on top of the Eiffel Tower and exploring the Louvre showed me the grandeur of our Father's creation and the creativity he graciously blessed all humankind with. I have made wonderful, lifelong friendships here and feel truly valued by my professors. I owe particular thanks to Ron Mock, who has been a wonderful mentor, professor and boss, and helped me grow as a writer and person of God over the last four years. I will truly miss watching our football team play, participating in the clubs I was involved in, and the graciousness of the Newberg community. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to attend George Fox. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

My trip to Europe on Juniors Abroad was a life-changing experience for me. It isn't often that a person gets the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the culture of another people group. I feel so blessed to have been able to experience the anxiety of traveling to a place where the majority of people did not speak English. In the French countryside, I was forced to stumble my way through the few words of French I knew to attempt to order food, find a restroom, or ask the price of an item I was interested in. Through this experience, my compassion for immigrants and refugees who move to the United States not knowing a word of English has grown immensely. I cannot imagine the stress they must experience while attempting to find housing, navigate our legal system, find work, and even simply buy food at the grocery store. I loved learning and experiencing the unique history and culture of each place I visited, and was constantly reminded of God's creativity and love shown through the people in each of the towns. My experience on Juniors Abroad deepened my understanding of what it means to be human and the incredible differences and abilities our God has blessed each person with. 

What’s next?

Wherever my career takes me, my goal in life is always to be working for the improvement of people's lives. As of now, I plan to work in law enforcement before furthering my education, and eventually hope to work with at-risk populations in the United States.

Peter Tissell

Peter Tissell

Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Major: Sociology and psychology (double major)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at George Fox University has been nothing short of incredible. Originally, I chose to attend Fox because of its close-knit Christian community and “Be Known” promise. Over these past four years that promise has been made into a reality. Through the antics of dorm life, the stresses of late-night studying, and the joys of Juniors Abroad adventures, I have grown to be a part of this unique community. Even now as my time at Fox comes to an end, I know the relationships and memories that I have made here will last me a lifetime.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

My four years at Fox have honestly been the most formative of my life. Through my relationships with peers and professors I have been both challenged and empowered in my academic, spiritual and personal pursuits. From studying sociology I learned to question my views of the world, and from studying psychology I received palpable skills to create change in the world. My experiences at Fox also served to strength my Christian faith and affirm my personal and professional aspirations.

What’s next?

I plan to remain in the Pacific Northwest. With my degree, I hope to pursue a career in criminal justice. Utilizing the education and connections I made while at Fox, I am confident of my course and cause. With Christ before me, behind me and within me, I am intrigued and inspired for what the future holds.

Bree Becker

Bree Becker

Hometown: Kigali, Rwanda
Major: Exercise science

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I came to George Fox from Kenya, where I had recently graduated high school. My parents were missionaries in Rwanda, and I spent part of middle school and high school at an international boarding school in Kenya. Needless to say, I experienced culture shock during Welcome Weekend, where I was navigating culture and communication differences along with being introduced to life at George Fox. I could not have chosen a better university to integrate my diverse experience growing up overseas. In my classes, my interactions in the dorm and in extracurricular activities, I felt accepted and appreciated. I also felt supported by professors from the beginning; in fact, a number of them took the time to mentor me and challenge me to test my beliefs and step outside my comfort zone. Finally, I felt overwhelming support from various multicultural functions and organizations on campus. I had the privilege to be part of the Mosaic leadership cohort, where I learned about and discussed diversity and served the community with an incredible group of students and staff. I also served as president of the Mu Kappa Club, a student-led club for missionary kids and third-culture kids. Being a part of both of these communities made my experience here rich and memorable.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I realized after three and a half years that George Fox had taught me a foundational skill that I will use my entire life – public speaking. Halfway through senior year I discovered that I was no longer afraid to talk in front of large groups. I knew how to make and deliver compelling presentations, and I was surprised to find I actually enjoyed the experience. Though this may seem like a small skill, it shows that growth happens gradually. With a lot of practice and time, these foundational skills that are taught over and over at George Fox are turned into motor memory for students to continue building on their entire lives. I have learned many professional skills, such as presenting, during my time at George Fox, and I’ve also learned various theoretical frameworks that shape how I see the world and others around me in a way that opens up possibilities and fosters inclusivism. 

What’s next?

Next year I am beginning George Fox’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue studying what I love and becoming a physical therapist in three short years. After graduate school, my long-term goal is to provide physical therapy services to developmentally disabled children in North Africa. My husband is also from Kenya, and our dream is to use our skills and passions to return to Africa and serve. 

Brendan Jones

Brendan Jones

Hometown: Missoula, Montana
Major: Health and human performance (concentration: fitness management)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience here at Fox, although short, was amazing. The things I will remember the most are the times I got to spend with my coaches and teammates coming together for common goals on and off the basketball court; the friendly relationships I had with each and every one of my professors; and the greatest memory – the day that I found Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Over the course of my two years at Fox I became more open-minded, gained understanding through patience and practice, and realized that the relationships I build are more delicate than I had ever thought – and are each unique and in need of constant work. These areas of growth have allowed me to better inspire others, lead my teammates, and enjoy my time everywhere I go, with whomever I am with. 

What’s next?

I have accepted a position as the director of basketball performance at Advanced Athlete Academy in Vancouver, Washington, where I will be able to continue to inspire and lead athletes and hopefully increase their well-being on and off the court. I hope this allows me to continue to learn about myself and refine my practices, all while positively impacting youth in our community. 

Jenna Hills

Jenna Hills

Hometown: Aloha, Oregon
Major: Engineering (concentration: civil engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Attending George Fox University has been a huge growing experience and an amazing blessing. I will always be thankful for the engineering professors who did so much for me over the last four years. They challenged me to ask questions, prepared me for a career after college, and inspired me to be an extraordinary engineer in the workplace. They are great examples of successful people in every aspect of life. Having people who are invested in you as a student and as a person is so valuable and beneficial. My peers also played a big part in who I am today. They taught me that I can always work harder, be a better leader, and be a better friend. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Transitioning from a small high school to university wasn't easy for me. Engineering also wasn’t easy, and I went through tough times both emotionally and academically in the last four years. But I see those tough times now as just stops along the journey to becoming who God wants me to be. There will always be tough times in life, and I think one of the most important things I discovered in college was the fact I needed to change the way I approach the tough times. It’s very easy to focus on me and get wrapped up in feeling bad for myself, when I should be thinking about how I can change my perspective and overcome.    

What’s next?

A few weeks after graduation, I will start a job as a transportation engineering associate at DKS Associates in Salem, Oregon, performing traffic impact analyses, safety studies, and designing signing, striping and lighting for roadways. I will also be enjoying homework-free weekends by spending time with friends, hiking and reading! I am excited to start this new chapter in life but sad to say farewell to my amazing years at George Fox.

CeCe Hansen

CeCe Hansen

Hometown: Grants Pass, Oregon
Major: Psychology

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox has been wonderful! I am a non-traditional student, which for me is a really nice way of saying I am twice as old as the majority of other students! I transferred from a junior college that had a lot of older students like me. Coming to Fox I was a little uncertain about what it would be like to be mostly surrounded by students the same age as my children. I didn’t need to be concerned! The students I have been blessed to be in class with are seriously amazing! I tell people my age all the time, “Don’t worry about this next generation, they are rock stars!” 

Every class I took taught me more than I ever imagined, and I have been blessed by every one of my professors. The fact that my daughter is also a student at Fox hasn’t hurt my experience here. How many 21-year-old women want to take college classes with their mom? I’m blessed to graduate from this amazing institution, among a cohort of phenomenal students, at the same time as my loving daughter. Life doesn’t get much better!

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

After being a stay-at-home mom for 22 years, college has been a GIANT growing experience! I loved serving my family in that capacity, and I will always treasure that season of my life. However, I have learned change is good, and as I continually seek God’s will for my life it has involved just that: change. I have changed since attending George Fox because I know more stuff. I know more about psychology, the brain, drug addiction, history, the Bible, sociology, and the list goes on and on. BUT I also know it isn’t enough to be equipped; I need to willing to be used. Learning alongside the other students has reminded me every day of the calling God has placed on my life, and it has kept my excitement for the future alive. As we studied, collaborated on group projects, and debated the issues of current events, a fire to keep learning from everyone the Lord puts in my life has been kept aflame. I have been equipped by the courses I have taken at Fox, but I have also been inspired to live each day learning, seeking and serving my Lord.

What’s next?

First things first, I am moving home to once again live with my husband of 24 years! He has been very supportive and has sacrificed so I could “go away” to college. I will be attending a hybrid graduate program at Northwest Christian University that will allow me to live at home, in Grants Pass, Oregon, and travel to Eugene once a week for classes. The graduate program I have chosen is school counseling. I want to work in a high school and help kids! Attending George Fox has given me a chance to see some amazing young people work hard to challenge themselves and chase their dreams for the future. I hope as a school counselor I can use this experience to inspire more generations to live life to the fullest, to chase their dreams, and to not be afraid to do the hard things in life.

Larisa Shkopu

Larisa Shkopu

Hometown: Woodburn, Oregon
Major: Political science (minor: global business)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox was positive. I came to George Fox not knowing what I wanted to do with my life after college, and I am leaving with a better understanding of what that is. There have been a couple really awesome professors and mentors at George Fox who helped me through the process. George Fox has an awesome collective team of people who actually care about each student’s well-being. I wouldn't necessarily say George Fox was the “college experience” we see in movies, but I think it was a good one. I couldn’t wait to be done with college, but as graduation day is approaching I know I will miss being here. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Before coming to George Fox I really kept a tight-knit circle of friends and wasn’t necessary open to new friendships. At George Fox I met some amazing people. I learned that you should get out of your comfort zone and not be afraid of opening up; only good can come out of it. I definitely grew socially and made some awesome long-lasting friendships. 

What’s next?

What is next for me? Well, hopefully a job I will enjoy. I am coming out of college with loans, and before anything I want to pay those off. Traveling has always been on my mind, and I will make it happen, but after I take care of grown-up stuff, like loans. As far as grad school goes, I am pretty much done with school, at least for now. 

Joshua Caddel

Joshua Caddel

Hometown: Kelso, Washington
Major: Accounting (minor: management)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox was more than I ever could have anticipated as an incoming freshman. The friends, the professors, the classes, the challenges and the successes far exceeded what I ever imagined. The people are what I will remember above all else, though. The relationships that I have been blessed with here at Fox are ones that will last forever.

What stands out most to me is the investment that my professors made in me. This was invaluable to my development as a student, friend and professional. It is rare to find an entire group of people (the faculty and administration at Fox) that believe you can take on the world, and then encourage you to do so while helping you to draw out a plan of attack. They didn’t just encourage; there was a feeling of partnership – that I wasn’t in this journey alone! 

I also developed friendships with some fantastic people. Whether it was in the classroom and hours upon hours of studying together, or on the court for practices and games, or the great roommates and coworkers I was blessed with, these people are truly what made me who I am today. Their imprint on my life is clearly evident. Their greatest qualities and capabilities rubbed off on me and inspired me to push harder and take daily steps toward my goals. Their continued support and loyalty allowed me to be vulnerable and grow through each of the challenges and successes that I encountered.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

In every way! I have become a more well-rounded individual since first coming to school. My experiences with basketball have built character and a strong work ethic. I have learned the importance of taking care of the little things, day to day, in order to accomplish something great in the long run. It has instilled in me a belief in team and it being greater than each individual. I have grown in patience, empathy and care for others. All of this is a result of the many people who poured into me and were willing to call me out when I was settling for anything less than my potential. There were a couple of specific turning points, though, over the last four years, one of which came during my sophomore year in my introductory accounting classes. These classes were the first time that I personally experienced the level of passion that a professor could have for both a subject and the students. I had always enjoyed math and the concepts of business, but knowing that the leaders of the program were willing to invest so much time and energy into my success was the first true turning point. I changed my major immediately, knowing that these were the mentors I wanted to surround myself with for the next few years. 

A second major turning point came this past year, at the end of fall semester of my senior year. I was taking a class that I wasn’t the most excited about, and my professor noticed. Eventually, when I got behind on a couple of assignments because I had put them on the back burner for too long and focused on other classes and responsibilities, he called me out on it. We had a deep and insightful conversation about where my priorities were at that moment and about my relationship with Jesus and how important these things are in order to lead in any capacity that God might have for me. I was reminded that even the little, seemingly unimportant things that we are responsible for still hold importance and require our best effort. The internal reflection that came as a result allowed me to realign myself with what was most important and find new motivation to finish strong. 
What’s next?

The next step for me is starting work this October as a tax staff member at Delap LLP, a local public accounting firm. As the name implies, I will primarily be working on a team to prepare a variety of tax returns, from individuals to corporations. I am extremely excited to start. As with anything new, there is some apprehension and uncertainty, but I am learning to lean into those feelings knowing that this is an incredible opportunity and not one that should be taken for granted. What I am most excited for is to begin this next chapter. As I reminisce on the last four years, I am blown away by the growth that I have experienced, and it leads me to believe that these next four years will hold many more special moments.

Megan Bos

Megan Bos

Hometown: Yakima, Washington
Major: Organizational communication (minor: management)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox has been truly wonderful, and it is something that I would not trade for the world. I can remember myself at 18 years old – a wide-eyed freshman stepping foot on campus four short years ago. I remember the fear and apprehension, but also the curiosity and excitement for what the Lord had in store for my time here. In every area of my life – relationally, emotionally, spiritually and academically – God has surpassed my expectations and proved His faithfulness time and time again. My time here has been so beautifully colored by joy and sorrow, by hope and doubt, and ultimately by the truth that God is good through all the messiness that life brings.

When I think about describing my time at George Fox, the word gratitude comes to mind. There are so many things about this place for which I am grateful. I have had incredible professors who challenge my thinking as a student and also care for me as an individual. I have also had the joy and honor of being a part of three different residence life staffs, each of which taught me the value of deep and intentional community. The Lord has also provided incredible friends here who have shown me constant encouragement and the importance of both giving and receiving. I am so thankful for how the Lord has woven my story in with others’ on this campus, and am grateful that I have been able to call Fox my home for the past four years.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

So much change and learning has taken place in my life since coming to Fox. I have learned so much about myself and who the Lord has created me to be. I have grown comfortable and confident in who I am as a leader, as a friend, and as a child of God. I have learned what healthy community looks like, and that what I have and who I am is important for helping cultivate community. A turning point of growth for me was during my sophomore year when I had the opportunity to share my life story with my residence life staff. Sharing my story and then taking the time to listen to others’ stories taught me the incredible power that comes from listening to one another. This lesson of vulnerability and authenticity taught me that my story is worth sharing, and this is something that I will take with me wherever I go. I have grown to love George Fox, and it is with a full heart that I leave it for my next adventure.

What’s next?

My next step is not fully formed yet. My dream is to work for a nonprofit that has some kind of international missions component. As I apply for jobs and wait for the right opportunity to arise, I am learning another lesson in trusting God and his plan for my life. I am excited to see where he leads me!

Kam Thomas

Kam Thomas

Hometown: Heyburn, Idaho
Major: Accounting

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I would describe my experience at Fox as meaningful and worthwhile. I will remember most the people who challenged me. I had people who challenged me academically, spiritually and in my growth as a person – in particular my accounting professors, Josh Sauerwein and Seth Sikkema. Josh and Seth were always available outside of class to talk about school and life in general, which really fulfilled the “Be Known” promise. Also, I appreciated information services coordinator Barbi Doran. I met Barbi when I volunteered to be a part of the Bruin Brigade (the team that helps coordinate the behind-the-scenes stuff for home football games). From the first day we met, Barbi took a personal interest in my life and now affectionately refers to me as “Kam-azing!” (You can ask her about that!) Barbi encourages me daily, in my walk with Christ, and is a great role model for how to live a Christian lifestyle. I have also made some friends that have taught me the meaning of patience, forgiveness and grace.

My big takeaways from my college experience are that I learned how to be flexible, frugal and an opportunist. I thought I was flexible before college, but I know now that I truly am. I had to be flexible with schoolwork, my work schedule, and my social life. I had to accept the fact that it is not all about grades; in the end it is all about people. I worked as an intern at American Family Insurance (the Ben Jaquith agency) my senior year, so I was able to gain some great customer service and professional office experience. Our motto at AmFam was “Here to Help,” and we strived to do three things daily: be positive, kind and productive. I also learned that my intrinsic motivation greatly outweighs any extrinsic motivations. Summed up, college is about being in the present and preparing for the future, and my experience at Fox was a good blend of both.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I have changed since being at Fox in a huge way. George Fox is the place where I came to know Christ. I like to say I got the greatest gift I ever could have from this university: a relationship with God. I began my walk with Christ and was baptized on Sept. 8, 2016. I was in Josh Sauerwein’s office talking about the accounting recruiting season, and he asked me a simple question: “Is there anything else I can help you with?” I told him my story and how I was super close to accepting Christ into my heart, but that I just had a few questions. He listened to all my questions, then gave me some verses to read and set up a meeting with me for the following week. I went back to Josh’s office a week later, on Sept. 8. I told Josh about reading John 3:3 (“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again”) and crying. I knew after reading that verse that I was ready, that I needed Christ and needed him ASAP. I sat in Josh’s office and prayed the prayer to ask Jesus into my heart and was changed forever. A couple hours after my meeting with Josh, I called some friends and told them I couldn’t wait any longer and that I wanted to be baptized. So my friends and I drove to Rogers Landing, and I was baptized in the Willamette River. I changed significantly during my time at Fox, but ultimately, I was able to sharpen my moral compass and feel prepared for my future career in accounting.

What’s next?

Well, I completed the accounting major in three years, so I am going to take my fourth year and go to grad school. Then I will have two degrees in the time it usually takes to get just one! I have been accepted into the Master of Accountancy program at Idaho State University in Pocatello, Idaho. I start the one-year program in August of 2017. However, before more schooling, I am going to coach a youth softball team, umpire a youth softball/baseball recreation league, and play on an adult coed softball team this summer. My family is also going to go on a trip to Canada this summer, where my grandparents own an island, and spend a week up there fishing!

The rest of my summer will consist of working and studying for the CPA exam. After grad school, I already have a job lined up here in Oregon with Moss Adams, a public accounting firm, as a staff auditor beginning in October of 2018. I chose to start my career doing public accounting because the learning curve is so steep. Also as an auditor, I will be exposed to many different industries; this will help me figure out what path I want to take after my time in public accounting. I have an interest in forensic accounting and want to get my CFE (Certified Fraud Examiner) credential in order to open even more doors later on. My long-term career goal is to be a CFO, since my talents are best utilized in a leadership position. I know that wherever I end up, I will be successful because I’ve been prepared with a great academic and spiritual foundation.

Kennedy Hobert

Kennedy Hobert

Hometown: Sumner, Washington
Major: Psychology

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been incredibly eye-opening and rewarding. I have been blessed with many diverse opportunities, and I feel that I have taken advantage of what George Fox has to offer. In the past four years, I have had the opportunity to play in a national championship game with the women’s basketball team, participate in research with my professors, and even spend a year working with inmates at a local prison. I would have never had any of these experiences had I not come to George Fox. In all my ventures I have felt very supported by my peers, professors and supervisors. My advisor, Chris Koch, has been very encouraging in my academic pursuits; he has been instrumental in helping me realize my passion for psychological research. The women I have worked with in my work-study position have been like a second family to me and a huge support throughout my time here. I cannot thank everyone enough for the love and encouragement that I have received during my time at Fox.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I feel that George Fox has allowed me to grow and mature in all facets of my life. In high school I was focused more on athletics than academics, but shortly after I arrived at Fox I started to value and appreciate my education. I now have a passion for academics and am looking forward to continuing my education in graduate school – a goal that I did not have coming into my freshman year. A turning point for me was during my freshman year when I reached out to my advisor because I wanted to get more involved in research. My advisor’s excitement and encouragement helped me to develop an interest in psychological research. This interest, coupled with my newfound passion for academics, opened the door to the opportunities I had during my time at George Fox.

What’s next?

I will be taking some time off before returning to graduate school the following year. I will use this break to help me decide which path in psychology I would like to pursue while continuing my work within the prison system. As for my plans for graduate school, I hope to obtain a PsyD in either forensic science or neuropsychology. I also have an interest in travelling outside of the Pacific Northwest to finish my education. I have spent the greater part of my life in the Pacific Northwest and, even though I love it here, I think I would enjoy gaining a new perspective on the world.

Markayla Shattuck

Markayla Shattuck

Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Major: Psychology

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been nothing but valuable. As a first-generation college student, the education I received exceeded my expectations. My faculty mentors did an exceptional job of preparing me for graduate school and were there to support me personally, spiritually and academically. Being at George Fox I have learned how to be a better person and what it means to truly love your neighbor.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Coming to George Fox my freshmen year I remember not knowing much about Jesus and who he was. At first I struggled in my religion classes, but the faculty and pastors walked alongside me in my journey. Going into sophomore year I had built this relationship with God, which has transformed me into who I am today. 

What’s next?

In August I will be starting my doctoral degree in clinical psychology at George Fox University. My passion is to work with incarcerated women and at-risk youth.

Raeann Morelli

Raeann Morelli

Hometown: Bend, Oregon
Major: Engineering (concentration: mechanical engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

George Fox University has been a place I have been welcomed in. Since my freshman year, I have been invited to come in as I am, to sit down, and to grow. I have found places to become more involved, to find new passions, to share my heart. I have found deep joy in this place, and I have learned more of who God is and who I am. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

When I walked onto this campus four years ago, I was young, eager and unsure of what the next four years would bring. Over the following years, I transitioned through several different seasons in my life, all of which grew me into who I am today. I became far more aware of who I am and the ways that God is working and moving in me. My junior year marked a season of life in which I stepped into a gap and came out the other side more in my own skin than ever before. I am deeply grateful for the community I found at George Fox University, for the ways that I was surrounded, encouraged, and challenged by those around me. I will forever remember these years and this season. 

What’s next?

As I graduate, I am moving into a season of finding work that is full of purpose. I am looking to serve in the world of engineering, with the future goal of eventually being a part of missions in some sense. I want to find work that is sustainable and purposeful – a place of joy and service. I hope this next step leads further into the calling that I am living into, one of deep purpose and service in the giftings that God has given to me. 

Erika Leigh Muir

Erika Leigh Muir

Hometown: Hillsboro, Oregon
Major: Art and design (minor: project management)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox, in one word, has been “formative.” I have grown so much during my time here, and there are so many people and reasons to attribute my growth to. As my time wraps up here, I leave with my heart full from all the memories made and people who have left an imprint on my life. One of my most cherished memories here was Welcome Weekend in 2016. I was the Welcome Weekend coordinator that fall, and it was amazing to play such a large role in one of the university's most important events.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Looking back at my 18-year-old self, when I started at Fox, I have changed so much since then! I can recall moments over the last couple of years that I noticed my worldview broadening. I can definitely attribute that broadening to my time in, and out, of the classroom. Going to this university has encouraged me to look at life's situations from various angles and question the truths that I had previously believed. These new habits give me the ability to be more intentionally involved in the lives of others and better understand controversial issues around me.

What’s next?

What's next for me? GREAT QUESTION. I plan on taking a three-week trip to Europe directly following graduation, then I will come back to Newberg and begin the job search. I hope to work for a business where I can utilize my love for design, management, events, organization, and encouraging those around me!

Corrie Mahr

Corrie Mahr

Hometown: Chengdu, China & Corvallis, Oregon
Major: Studio art (concentration: photography)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at Fox has been filled with so many pivotal experiences. It has been a season of learning to lean deeply into the community around me. Wonderful mentors and friends who have poured into my life and fostered a place of growth have surrounded me. I never knew four years could be packed so tightly with adventures, conversations, beautiful challenges and memories that live on through pictures (worth more than 1,000 words). These people, this community, they are what have made this journey so amazing and life-giving.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I have felt growth in many areas of my life during this time, but I see it most in the way I have learned how to better step into my identity. There is a deep beauty in calling out truth and having confidence in who you are. I have had the privilege of walking alongside others – peers and leaders – people who have repeatedly affirmed in me the truth of who I have been created to be.

What’s next?

This past year I have been developing a freelance photography business, and I am excited to start pursuing a creative life more full time! I will be doing wedding photography this summer (and I am happy to say it is booking up quickly)! Just as starting at Fox was an unknown, I see more unknowns in the near future, but I am anticipating great new things and looking forward to starting this new journey! 

Emily Mavrakis

Emily Mavrakis

Hometown: Campbell, California
Major: Economics (minors: psychology and art)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at George Fox has been wonderful. I’ve learned a ton, I’ve developed incredible relationships, I’ve had some amazing experiences, and I’ve grown a lot personally. In regards to academics, I will remember deciding on economics as my major, working on creating an economic impact study for the university, and completing my own original research project, all of which would not have occurred without the immense support of my advisor, Nate Peach. I will remember my two work-study jobs that were both incredible experiences: working as an office assistant in the IDEA Center and as a teacher’s assistant for the economics professors. I loved working at the university helping other students, and I really loved working alongside such encouraging and caring staff members.

I will also remember the fun experiences I have had while at Fox, the highlight being my Juniors Abroad trip to England and France. I have made so many wonderful friends as well, and I have developed very close friendships with a few of them. The love and support from these friendships has been so amazing and greatly contributed to my positive college experience. I will never forget the wonderful, supportive relationships I’ve had with other students, staff and faculty at George Fox.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I have grown very much since coming to George Fox. I started college very confused as to who I was, what I believed in, and what I wanted to do in life. While I haven’t found all the answers, I have learned to accept the fact that I do not have everything figured out. I have also developed a greater sense of confidence in myself and in what I can accomplish. I believe I have been able to develop this self-confidence through discovering that I can live on my own and through succeeding in the many scary, new tasks college presents. My success and growth in these areas would not have been possible without the encouragement and love I received from my family back home, my college friends, and the caring George Fox staff and faculty members in my life.

What’s next?

After graduation, I’m moving to Beaverton, Oregon, where I will start working as the executive assistant for Compassion First, a local nonprofit working to fight sex-trafficking in Indonesia. I have been interning at the organization for almost a year now, and I am very excited to start working there full time! I am very interested in nonprofit work, so I may stay in the industry for a while, but I can also see myself eventually working in analytics, government or education. There are so many options out there, and I am excited to see where this path will take me!

Kelsea Meyers

Kelsea Meyers

Hometown: Puyallup, Washington
Major: Health and human performance education (concentration: fitness management; minor: business management)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

What I will remember most about my experience at George Fox is being a part of the volleyball team. We may not have been very successful on the court, but the relationships I made will last a lifetime. By far, the best moment was beating Willamette, ranked first in the conference at the time, in five sets my junior season.

Elise Trask has had the biggest impact on my life here at Fox. She has been an amazing mentor to me for the past three years. I admire her vision, her leadership, her drive, and her passion for her job and the people around her. She is an amazing example of a powerful woman in the sports industry, especially considering the short amount of time she has been here. I am truly blessed to be able to continue to learn from her each and every day.

I learned a lot of things in my time at Fox, but I think the most important thing was to live day by day. Enjoy every day and take advantage of every moment. You can't spend all of your time planning your life out (as much as the organizer in me would like to). Life will throw you curveballs, and plans may be ruined. So take it day by day. My four years here flew by, and looking back, I wish I had taken advantage of more.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I grew a lot in my four years at Fox, mostly maturity wise. But I feel that the biggest turning point for me, as far as growth goes, was my sophomore year. I took over as the starting libero for the volleyball team that year, but halfway through the season I tore my ACL and was out for the rest of the year. This was a humbling experience for me. I had never experienced an injury that ended a season for me (mostly just injuries where I was out a couple of weeks). But it taught me to never take anything for granted. I took for granted my ability to step on the volleyball court every day, and when it was taken away from me, I felt lost. I worked super hard to make a quick recovery and was able to start running after four months and slowly get into playing again. Let me tell you, after that injury, I never took playing volleyball for granted again, and I will never take anything for granted again, for that matter.

What’s next?

I will be taking over as a temp for Elise Trask's position as associate athletic director until the beginning of October, as she will be on maternity leave. After that, I plan to move to Arizona to gain residency and reapply to Arizona State for their MBA program with a concentration in sports business. Upon completion of my MBA, I hope to either work in a collegiate athletic department or for a professional baseball team.

Hannah Fajen

Hannah Fajen

Hometown: Happy Valley, Oregon
Major: Social work

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

During my four years at George Fox, I have had so many wonderful experiences. My freshman year, I lived in Macy, and I loved the community of HMS. Throughout my time here, I was involved in a number of leadership roles, from peer advising and being an RA to being president of the Social Work Club. I so enjoyed these roles because I got to know so many wonderful and interesting people that I otherwise may not have known! During my junior and senior years, I was part of the residence life team. The mentorship and community offered through being an RA were so formational. Both years, I worked with Sarah Taylor, who has had a huge impact on my life. I have been so encouraged by her authenticity and intentionality. 

Being in the social work program has been a really important part of my time here. I joined the program during my sophomore year. During these years, my worldview was stretched. I was challenged to really see myself, the beautiful and the dark. While it was not easy, I was pushed to examine my life experiences and how they have shaped who I am. I got to know myself better during these last two years taking solely social work classes and being involved in residence life. The professors in the social work program (Erin Johnson, Lizz Schallert, Rhonda Andrews, Christine Saladino and Cliff Rosenbohm, to name a few) have been crucial in my personal formation over the last few years. In learning how to care of others, I have learned so much about myself. This year especially, I have learned my limitations. As a helper, I am beginning to learn how to accept help. Through the good and the hard, I learned many valuable lessons. I will remember all of the wonderful friends, faculty and staff who have helped me become comfortable being myself. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Coming into Fox, I was timid, shy and scared. Over the last four years, I have grown into myself. At the beginning of my sophomore year as I began my role as a peer advisor, I decided I would say “yes” more. Many opportunities seemed to fall in my lap after I decided to say “yes” to new things. Many of the things that are the most terrifying and intimidating often end up being the most rewarding. 

I had the privilege to go on a summer serve trip to Romania and Moldova with Word Made Flesh the May after my sophomore year. I learned countless lessons on this trip, particularly about God's graciousness and my finiteness, and much about cultural humility. I loved being in a totally different culture, especially visiting the Orthodox Christian churches. It was amazing to see the many ways that people worship God. We visited a number of monasteries while there. At each monastery, there was a cemetery. When each woman became a nun, she was given a plot in the cemetery. Each nun tended her plot in the cemetery as a garden. This was such a powerful metaphor for me, seeing these women who have wholly committed their lives to God and are cultivating beautiful flowers until they become one with the earth and meet God face to face. I began to picture my Christian life as that cemetery plot, recognizing my lifelong commitment to loving and serving God and continuing to grow into the woman God created me to be until I meet him. Faith is a lifelong process, not just a one-time commitment. 

I stretched myself, and I began to thrive, but not without some bumps. I have grown in my understanding of who my neighbor is, how to care for others, and how to be in relationship with a wide variety of people. I have had such a rich experience here at Fox. These last four years have taught me about God's love and grace, but also his willingness to let me find him. I am learning what it means to continually return to God, and then return again; he is always there, but I must come back to his embrace daily. I often believe lies about my unworthiness, and the last four years have been a journey of learning to refute those lies. I have learned the importance of community, and I would likely not be here without family and friends supporting me through difficult times of doubt and deep pain. I learned that it is OK to fail, and failure could even be the most important thing one can experience. The times when I have risked something and failed were some of the most valuable lessons I have learned. Everyone messes up. The important part is what you do with that mess, whether you wallow in it or turn it into something beautiful. 

What’s next?

After graduation, I am starting a six-month position in the Department of Human Services’ child welfare office as a social service assistant. After that, I am not exactly sure what I want to do, but I know that I want to walk alongside and empower those who are vulnerable. Once I decide on a specific setting or population I would like to work with, I plan on going back to school to earn my master’s degree in social work. While I don’t have a specific direction, I know that God will use me to speak truth and hope into people’s lives, no matter who my clients are. This fall, I am marrying Matthew Woertink, who graduated from Fox in 2015, and I am so ecstatic about starting a life with him. 

Courtney Bither

Courtney Bither

Hometown: Tigard, Oregon
Major: Biblical studies

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

The experience I will remember most from Fox took place my final week of classes of my senior year. For a month I had been struggling with my plans for the year after graduation. It was eating me alive. I was stuck. So I showed up outside of Bill Jolliff's office. I had Bill for one poetry class the fall semester of my senior year. It was amazing. I knew that Bill would listen to me, and he did. He gave me the courage to move forward. I also messaged my advisor in distress, and he had me over to his house that day because he knew how challenging this decision was for me. When Fox is at its best, it's like this.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I was at George Fox for three years, and I really grew up here. I learned to think for myself, to fight for justice, and to trust my feelings.

What’s next?

I believe that theological scholarship can motivate communities to be courageous, strategic and hopeful. The study of religion can help us understand and act compassionately toward one another in an increasingly connected world. Because of this, in the fall I will leave to pursue a master of theological studies degree at Harvard Divinity School. I plan to study the relationship between religion and human rights law. I am also interested in religion and narrative as a means of resistance and survival for people experiencing abuse and oppression. I don’t have a grand plan for my life, but I do know that people are worth loving and that systems of oppression must be dismantled. I hope to be a compassionate person, and I believe that studying religion can help me act compassionately in a world that sometimes forgets to be kind. 

Abigail Freeman

Abigail Freeman

Hometown: Castle Rock, Colorado
Major: Social work

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Refining. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about my time at Fox. My time at Fox was characterized by intense growth, including spiritual, emotional, mental, intellectual, relational, etc.  While it may sound cheesy to say, I owe that to God and others at Fox who were willing to diligently walk alongside me. Throughout my years at Fox I have stored up many memories – some difficult, some beautiful – but each a vital piece of the four years of my life. Some of these include my trip to India on Juniors Abroad, living off campus with Christ-centered women, enriching internships, etc. I am so thankful for the social work department and a host of professors who supported me on my journey. Each has truly embodied that “Be Known” promise. Furthermore, professors within the social work department seek to foster not only your academic growth, but also your personal growth. They walked alongside me in some of the most difficult transitions of my life. Fox was a time of exploring my identity and living into who it is I am called to be. It has been a time of developing the person I want to be. I have no doubt that God is not done refining me. In fact, I rather hope he is not done!

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

Like many young freshman stepping onto a college campus for the first time, I wasn’t quite sure who I was. Perhaps I was even more concerned with fitting in and “belonging” than exploring who the true me was. However, over the past few years I have indeed been refined. After personal troubles characterized my junior year, I began working closely with faculty on campus, the Health and Counseling Center, etc. I learned that the act of receiving can be a form of worship. Having grace on yourself and others is a form of submission to God and can be a truly beautiful thing. I have also learned the importance of finding and belonging to a community. It is an investment worthwhile. I have learned how to invest and create healthy relationships. I am so thankful for these lessons.   

What’s next?

After graduation, I am planning to move back home to Colorado. I hope to find a meaningful job using my social work skills. After a year or two post-undergrad, I would love to attend graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree in social work. This upcoming year I will also be marrying my best friend, Camden Ensmenger. I am excited to see what God has in store for me in the next season. 

Francesca Aguilar

Francesca Aguilar

Hometown: Corning, California
Major: Theatre

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I would describe my experience at George Fox as one of the most rewarding and fulfilling times of my life. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when I came in as a freshman, but the last four years have helped shape who I am today. I have learned so much not only from my professors but from the friendships that I have cultivated over the years. These friendships are some of my best memories because every person impacted my life for the better. They have taught me how to be the best version of myself. 

One of the biggest impacts on my life has been the theatre mantra “servant storyteller.” I have learned how to be a servant storyteller not only in my theatrical designs and visions, but through my own life as well. To be a servant storyteller is to represent the stories of the world with a whole heart. After the time that I have spent learning in and outside the classroom, I know that I have the ability to enter the world with a full and gracious heart that is prepared to listen, cultivate and execute the stories we need and want to hear.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I have learned how to be more confident in who I am as a person and with my decisions. Since I have been designing different elements of theatre for the main-stage productions, I have learned to articulate the choices I have made to the design team, and to back up my decisions with my research. This has led to me being more confident in my work outside the theatre by knowing how and when to stand up for what I believe, no matter what the situation. My perspective of the world is different because I have had the opportunity to learn from so many kinds of people on campus.

I don’t think I ever had a “turning point” in my life, but more of a “realization” during my sophomore year. I realized that the things you do today can affect tomorrow. It was during this year that I became a theatre major with a double concentration in acting/directing and design/technology. Once I added on the design/tech concentration, my life changed in a way I never thought it would. I ended up learning how to design the technical elements of theatre (which I was always a little afraid of) and found out I was pretty good at it. Ever since then, I have been designing and I feel like I have found a home with the technical aspect of theatre. My life changed from wanting to be an actor to wanting to design, and I have found that I love it.

What’s next?

Currently, I am applying and interviewing for technical theatre internships throughout Oregon and California. My goal is to land one of the paid internships that will give me invaluable lessons in the professional world of theatre. Although I am leaving George Fox, my learning is not at an end. It is my hope that, when I am hired, I will meet professional designers who have been working in the industry for a while. This will give me an opportunity to design for more shows, and it will also help me continue to make contacts in the very small world of theatre.

Lehman Pekkola

Lehman Pekkola

Hometown: Milwaukie, Oregon
Major: Art and design (concentration: graphic design)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Looking back on it all, I definitely wouldn’t trade my experience at George Fox University. When I was making the conscious decision to attend back in 2013, I decided ultimately to come because I knew I would learn to become a better human here. That was the draw. It wasn’t the academics, it wasn’t the campus, it wasn’t even my concentration in art & design … It was purely because somehow I knew that this place shapes people in ways that other universities don’t. And that’s something to be proud of. It’s somewhat hard to describe, because there were certainly times when I almost loathed Fox, but that’s how life is. They say that experiences are what you make of it, and I do very much believe that, but sometimes it’s simply the place that shapes an experience and not the person. For the past four years, that place has been George Fox.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?

I think it’s hard, especially for me, to be completely satisfied with where I’m at in life because I’m constantly thinking of how things can be improved. But then I’m reminded that everything, essentially, is temporary. My time at George Fox was temporary, and although it came with a lot of frustrations, challenges, identity crises and confusion, it also opened up for transcendence to take place – a transcendence that I hadn’t anticipated would take form, a transcendence that changed my entire perspective toward relationship, toward art, toward faith, toward the world. I said it above, but George Fox (faculty, professors, peers) allowed space and opportunities for me to become a better human being, which is something I’ll forever be grateful for. 

My thesis exhibition “Cleansed by” featured work in print, photography and piano, and instilled in me this desire to continue creating “experiences” for people – experiences that reflect our very raw and human nature. The majority of my art practice at Fox has consisted of print design and photography, in hopes to eventually start my own publication one day. I’m fascinated by humanity. I’m fascinated by the human form and how we are all created in the image of God. I’m fascinated by the constant ebb and flow, by change, and by uncertainty. Travel, experience, publish – that’s the route I’m choosing to embark on.

What’s next?

Well, I will continue to lean into the uncertainty of life. If there’s one thing I learned throughout my time at college it’s that you can’t control everything. You simply can’t. Once you start giving up control, that’s when things start falling into place. So, as of right now my plan is to move home for the summer (although a bit daunting) and travel to Israel for work in September. I currently produce visual content for the photography software company Pic-Time, which is based in Tel Aviv. I have no idea where I’ll go from there, but it’s quite thrilling to think about.