Just four short years ago, the Class of 2018 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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Rachel Hills

Rachel Hills

Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Mechanical Engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I came to Fox expecting a rigorous academic program and honestly not much else. I feared what I didn’t know, yet at the same time I thought I knew everything. My experience at Fox taught me that I was wrong. Over the past four years, not only have I learned the technical and ethical responsibilities of an engineer, but I have also become aware of and empathetic to current societal issues that I was previously ignorant toward. I attribute much of my personal development and success to my friends, my family, and, of course, my professors, and I am so grateful for the culture and community that I found at Fox. 

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

I’ve experienced a lot of unexpected change over the past four years. Coming from a small, private Christian school where I was extremely confident and comfortable, I was surprised by the major social shift that I experienced freshman year. I quickly learned that I was no longer the social butterfly that I had once been but instead was extremely introverted, quiet, and self-conscious in front of my peers. While this transition wasn’t easy, it played an integral role in the process of my own self-discovery and improvement.

In addition, I now have a much greater capacity to understand and empathize with others. I came to Fox with an inability to see outside of my own experiences, often believing everything and challenging nothing. I had little exposure to diverse points of view, but the culture here has helped me broaden my worldview by seeing more things with an open mind.

What’s next?

Currently I am searching for an engineering position within biotechnology or the biomedical engineering industry. This has been my plan ever since freshman year and played a significant role in my decision to pursue mechanical engineering at George Fox. I would love to combine my passion for healthcare with my engineering skills, and am looking forward to what God has for me in this next chapter of life.

Joshua Germain

Joshua Germain

Hometown: Bend, Oregon
Major: Psychology (Minor: Educational Ministry)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox University truly surrounds the idea and practice of hospitality. Throughout these past four years, I have seen the good fruit that comes from the invitation to authentically engage God, others and myself. To host someone well necessitates the "knowing" process to occur. The "Be Known" promise in not just a cliché; it is a reminder of God’s pursuit of us and how we can emulate that same kind of invitation in our community. My George Fox experience enabled me to begin inviting others into my true self, instead of just what I wanted them to see. In turn, I was also experiencing the process of being invited and hosted into the authenticity of others. 

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

I came into college with so many passions, desires and expectations for what these four years were going to hold. One of those desires was to serve others well. Back then, I served in ways that assumed the needs of others. Through my course work and engaging in community, I soon realized that serving others well necessitates a great level of understanding. I realized that I wanted to serve people in the ways that they need to be served, instead of the ways that I think they should be served. It was then that I discovered a passion within myself to seek understanding.

How can someone truly understand another person? Wouldn't you just listen to them? Yes, but to truly listen to what someone is trying to say, I must understand how my own biases and triggers influence the way that I listen. After this realization, I embarked on the process of heeding the inner life. I desired to increase my self awareness in order to listen and understand others well. The process of heeding the life is difficult. A holistic exploration of the self requires an engagement with joy, fear, sadness and anger. I began to believe that Jesus had something for me in each of those core emotions. By sitting with them, rather than hiding away from them, the process of wholeness could begin. George Fox has been a safe place for me to uncover who I was, and in turn, it showed me how to more effectively love and serve others.

What’s next?

I will begin the Master of Arts in Marriage, Couple and Family Counseling program at George Fox. I am extremely excited to begin learning more ways to extend effective empathy to others. I love the focus this program places on social justice and equipping students to serve a wide variety of individuals, couples and families in many different stages of life.

After my three years in that program, I hope to possibly start my own private practice or work in some type of clinic working with children and families. I feel very blessed to still be in the area in order to connect with the George Fox community and be close to my girlfriend, Maddy McCabe, who will be a senior this fall. I would also love to travel more; India and New Zealand are at the top of my list as of now! 

Kelsey Bennett

Kelsey Bennett

Hometown: Oregon City, Oregon
Major: Nursing

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been rooted in community. The community built from being a part of an elective chapel worship my sophomore year to being a peer advisor for two years have both played a tremendous role in shaping me in my faith and as a leader. My nursing cohort has been one of the biggest blessings in my time here, providing continual support, friendship and laughter in the midst of a difficult program that, at times, can feel daunting and overwhelming. I have learned how to be a more compassionate, analytical and bold nurse from the examples that my professors and clinical instructors have set for me, which I am so grateful for. 

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

My time at George Fox has been a time of incredible growth both personally and academically. My senior capstone clinical in the neonatal intensive care unit at Providence St. Vincent served to refine my passion for walking alongside families through some of the most vulnerable times in their lives to equip them with the skills they need to confidently take their babies home. The nursing program pushed me to become a nurse dedicated to continual learning. My experiences at George Fox have provided me confidence in myself as a student to be able to provide high-quality care to all people as a Christ-following nurse.

What’s next?

I will start a nurse residency program in the Portland area to pursue becoming a nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit. My long-term goal is to continue on to graduate school to become a neonatal nurse practitioner.

Leonel Cruz

Leonel Cruz

Hometown: Woodburn, Oregon
Major: Biology (Concentration: General Biology)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox was different every year I was here. It started with me coming in as a transfer student and everyone who was a returning student already had their friend group and a place at Fox. By the end of my four here, I found a place where I was able to contribute to the community. There were nights where I struggled through my course work, but in the end I was pushed to discover the things that I was good at and ultimately discover a path where I could use those talents. 

There were several people during my time at Fox who in one way or another contributed to where I am today. George Fox has a community where there always seems to be someone who is willing to listen to you. I can’t count the times I was able to vent to a someone or where I was able to be that person for somebody. Knowing that you could help someone by just giving them your attention and time is the thing that I will remember most about Fox. It’s what allowed me to be on the path I am on today.
How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?
I struggled a ton in my major, and those negative feelings hindered my experience the first two years at Fox. I felt unsure of myself and in my abilities to succeed in college. These feelings kept me indoors working toward a degree I was unsure how I would use. It was not until I sat down and had a conversation with Stephanie St. Cyr and talked about my experiences at Fox that I was moved to start becoming more involved with the campus. Through working with Cultural Ambassadors as well as the Bridge Scholars program, I started gaining confidence in myself and the things that I could do if I focused on the things I am good at. Thanks to this one conversation with Stephanie I was able to meet Jenny Elsey, Bryce Coefield, Connor Smalling and others who have played huge roles in allowing me to start graduate school this upcoming fall.
What’s next?

I will begin a masters program at Azusa Pacific University in California come fall term. I am starting a college counseling and student development program, and once I have this degree I hope to pursue a job at a university where I can work to improve the experience of first-year students as well as first-generation students. The goal is to push them to discover their talents and how they can best serve and grow during their university experience.  

Seth Nonnenmacher

Seth Nonnenmacher

Hometown: Burns, Oregon
Major: Health and Human Performance (Minor: Coaching)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

What I will remember most about George Fox is my incredible track and field team. The individuals that make up the whole of our team are incredible leaders, athletes and role models. My most memorable moment would have to be watching my head coach, John Smith, cry after I won the javelin national championship. My coaches Gabe Haberly, John Smith and Adam Haldorson have been such incredible leaders who have given me the tools necessary to be successful both on and off the track. Another individual who has had an immense impact on my life is Jacoby Wolfe. Jacoby has been the best teammate, friend and roommate that I could have ever asked for. I learned that each coach will take the time to truly get to know you and support you no matter what areas of difficulty you may be going through.

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

Since day one of walking onto this campus freshman year, I have felt loved and supported by many individuals at this university, including the student body and the faculty. I would say that one of the largest changes that has occurred over the past four years is my ability to love and support the people around me.

What’s next?

What’s next? That is a fantastic question. I plan to move to Boise, Idaho, where I will begin my track and field coaching career at Boise State University as a throws coach. I also plan to get my CSCS and become a personal trainer, at least for the first year or two. I will also be substitute teaching in and around Boise. I have decided not to get my master’s degree in teaching directly out of college because I would like to spend a year or two away from the books and make sure that I am getting involved in something that I am really passionate about. I also plan to continue my javelin training and attempt to qualify for the Olympic Trials, and hopefully the Olympics eventually.

Jess Hanson

Jess Hanson

Hometown: El Dorado Hills, California
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies (Health and Human Performance & Psychology)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Although I never would have imagined myself ending up at George Fox, I am so grateful that God led me here for so many reasons. The education and experience that I received is something that is difficult to find anywhere else – the genuine care from all of my professors, the emphasis of athletics and how this can benefit my overall life, and the fellowship I have found through friends, teammates, coaches and the staff.

For many student-athletes, it is so easy on college campuses for academics to become less of a priority than athletics, or vice versa. At Fox, I have experienced how much the coaches and professors want to see me truly succeed both on the lacrosse field and in the classroom. I truly felt like athletics and education were equally integrated in a way that has been so beneficial. Yes, I am receiving my degree, but I am also receiving so many more skills I will take with me after college through the staff that I have worked with and learned from. Additionally, the way that Christ has been integrated throughout my undergraduate education and collegiate athletic career is something that has been so impactful. 

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

I have grown in so many ways throughout the past four years. Through all the relationships that I’ve build at George Fox, I have been constantly pushed to be the individual that I am made to be and the best version of myself that I possibly can be. I have grown to become confident in my strengths, and have learned to accept difficult situations as a challenge that can be used to push myself. In high school, I didn't even want to go to college, and not only have I grown to love and be thankful for this opportunity, but I have learned to incorporate joy and passion into everything that I do.

What’s next?

I will be moving to Colorado and continuing my education to receive a master’s degree in sport and performance psychology from the University of Denver. I am so excited for this opportunity, and knowing how much of an impact athletics has had on my life, I cannot wait to help make an impact in this field as well. Although I’m not positive what exactly I want to do after graduate school, I plan to continue being involved in lacrosse and hopefully work with ultra runners and triathletes one day. 

Alex Jondal

Alex Jondal

Hometown: Spokane, Washington
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Civil Engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been great. I came here as a transfer from a large school with a non-religious background. I was nervous about going to a small religious school. I also wondered if it would feel like a gloried high school. My fears were quickly diminished due to how great my classmates and teammates were. I was immediately welcomed and found a support when needed as I navigated through my rigorous academic schedule.

I also feel that, different from most people, George Fox has been everything that I didn’t expect in the best possible way. With the help of my classmates, professors, teammates and coaches, I have grown into the person I am today. 

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

My biggest transition period at Fox was during my sophomore year, when I transferred from the University of Hawaii. As background, I came from a large public school with a focus on athletics first and students second, to a small Christian community focused on self-growth and academics, before athletics. During this transition period, I grew in many areas where I had been lacking. My focus became to keep the high level of excellence I desired, not only in athletics but also in academics.

After my first set of midterms, I learned that I was no longer able to “skate by” and “live off the curve” to maintain my goal of making the dean’s list every semester. I learned to improve my time management, organization and self-motivation, and matured immensely through the process. I think by developing and improving upon these skills, I also matured as an adult.


What’s next?

I am proud and happy to say that I accepted a job offer using my civil engineering degree in January. My next steps are to move back to Spokane, Washington, and work at T-O Engineering as a design engineer within the transportation sector. Along with starting up my professional career, I will take complete advantage of summer weather in the inland Northwest by spending my weekends on Lake Coeur d’Alene!

My first five years working at T-O will provide me with the experience I need to sit for my professional engineering license. In time, I hope to continue developing my career in the civil engineering field and attend night classes to earn a master’s degree.

I look forward to the new challenges that life brings upon me. I feel the crucial skills I’ve developed at George Fox have given me a head start. Life is full.

Hanna Kumasaka

Hanna Kumasaka

Hometown: Seattle, Washington
Major: Biology (Concentration: General Biology)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience has been very rich in growing who I am with those around me. So much personal development has occurred over my years here at George Fox, and I owe much of that growth to the guidance of those around me. Whether teachers, coaches, RAs or pastors, everyone encouraged and rejoiced with me in my successes and believed in me during the difficult times. These testing times and joyful experiences deepened my relationships with those around me, and these relationships will continue long after graduation. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?
God has stretched me in ways I never would have imagined, specifically through sports. I was blessed to be able to play volleyball here at Fox, and it provided a supportive environment in which to be challenged and ultimately experience the freedom that God wants for every individual. Surprisingly, this moment for me occurred during a game. Even that fact was astonishing – that God cares so much about what we are interested in, and he can use anything for his perfect plan for our lives.
What’s next?

This summer I will be traveling with family to celebrate graduation, and then I have the immense opportunity to return to Fox in the fall not as a student, but as an assistant coach for the volleyball team! After that, I will apply to graduate school, possibly pursuing a masters in teaching to one day teach at the secondary level at a Christian school. God has orchestrated everything so miraculously, and I cannot wait to pursue the calling God has for my life, wherever that may lead. 

Chase Hudson

Chase Hudson

Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon
Major: Biology

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox was probably one of the better four years of my 21 years of life. I will remember the amount of growth my faith in God had specifically. I had to make my faith my own. Playing football provided even more chances for growth. This definitely had a large impact on my life and shaping me into a man.

When I arrived for my freshman year, I was wide-eyed and nervous for the next four years. There have been a lot of ups and downs in my life since then. I will remember the coaches and teammates that took an interest in my life and helped me accomplish my dream of playing college football. I was always told growing up that I would never go anywhere or amount to anything. This was part of the reason I came to Fox. It gave me an opportunity to prove people wrong and show I was capable of anything.

I completed school in four years, played college football and did a biology degree. I could not have done that without God or Fox. Even though I will have debt and such after school, it is all worth it in the long run. I know I will look back on my experience and think of all the great memories. Life is about making memories and enjoying experiences with other people; Fox allowed me to do this. I have a great group of friends who have helped me to become a better believer and person in general. 

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

I have changed in a lot of ways since I came to Fox. I have grown up and enjoyed the transition into making my life my own. My freshman year I realized that my parents weren’t always going to be around and I would have to make decisions myself. I enjoy living my own life and being able to do things whenever. College has allowed me to develop good social skills, scheduling and life skills in general. I think that I will benefit from my experiences later on in life. Along with that, I have become a better Christian and man of faith. College has changed me for the better, and I would not be the person I am today if not for the past four years. 

Some days I wish I would have just worked and made money instead of going to college. That might have been easier, but I feel like God called me to go to school, and I’m glad I did. If someone asked me four years ago where I would see myself today, I would not have thought I would be where I am now. I have changed in so many ways that I cannot express in writing. I cannot believe that I am where God has placed me and given me the opportunities he has. I am very grateful for my last four years at Fox and look forward to moving on in life. I am so done with homework. Haha

What’s next?

I plan to go into the Oregon State Police and hopefully work in the Fish and Wildlife Division. I want to live in Eastern Oregon. I also look forward to being able to hunt and fish again now that football is over. I cannot wait to get out and experience God’s creation every day with my potential job. I plan on keeping track of George Fox football and hopefully being able to see a few games. I think it will be weird next August when I am not coming back to Fox for fall camp.

I have been going to school for basically my whole life, and I cannot wait to not have to go to school. I hope to live an adventurous life and live in the woods with a truck, and hopefully someday a woman. I also want to get a dog because I have not had one for some time now and I miss having one. This will all hopefully happen after I apply to the OSP and go through academy. I look forward to my future and can’t wait to see what God has in store.

Helen Tkach

Helen Tkach

Hometown: Oregon City, Oregon
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Mechanical Engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been full of adventures, challenges and personal growth. I have been most impacted by my peers and the environment filled with faith and learning. I will remember my peers and the camaraderie we shared through the challenges we faced in engineering projects. I will also remember traveling across Europe for Juniors Abroad and seeing the Colosseum, the Eiffel tower and riding gondolas in Venice. Through all these experiences I have been blessed, and I have grown in my faith. I stand more confident today in who I am and what I believe. I have experienced great friendships and community, and have learned to enjoy life wherever it takes me.

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

I began my time at George Fox very excited for this new stage in life, but I was unsure of what I wanted to do or where life would take me. In the beginning I was challenged in difficult engineering classes when I was still unsure of my direction in engineering. There were so many classes, projects and discussions that challenged me academically and personally.

The real turning point for me was junior year, when I was pushed to my limits. But I ended the year more sure of myself, more confident and more prepared to face my future. My worldview expanded, and I learned to be more resilient in times of difficulty, to trust in God, to appreciate those around me and to enjoy the journey that life takes you on. I came into George Fox a different person, and through all my challenges and experiences I have grown and am more prepared for what lies ahead.

What’s next?

I look forward to starting my career as a mechanical engineer and innovating and solving problems through mechanical design. I hope to design products that benefit people’s lives and have a positive impact even in small measures. I also am excited for the homework-free evenings and weekends and to spend time with friends and family. I am looking forward to doing more traveling, experiencing new adventures and exploring more of the world. I look forward to wherever God leads me.

Zak Buckles

Zak Buckles

Hometown: Kent, Washington
Major: Cognitive Science (Concentration: Neuroscience)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox has been one of first realizing how much people (RAs, faculty, friends) are willing to invest into my life, and second learning how I can invest in the lives of others. This is the spirit of George Fox and the “Be Known” promise. It is a willingness to look out for others and take time out of our days to listen to and grow with each other. 

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

My four years at George Fox have involved a number of “epiphany-esque” moments. First among them occurred during my sophomore year in counseling class. Kris Kays gave a demonstration on the importance of emotional boundaries in relationships; this shook my world and made me realize that taking care of myself is the first step to taking care of other people. The second epiphany was brought on during a diversity training workshop for student leaders. In conjunction with a racial healing class I have come to realize that there is a huge need for white students to enter into conversations about privilege and racial dissonance with each other and with students of color; loving our neighbors means intently listening to their stories. The third change was meeting and marrying my wife. God’s movement toward humanity is described in the marital context, and for good reason; matrimonial love necessarily changes the individual. Entering into marriage is frightening for its power to obliterate our veils of insecurity that we so often hide behind, and yet it is beautiful because of that very power to shape and change us. 

What’s next?

Next fall I will be starting classes in the PsyD program at George Fox. My interests in clinical psychology are still too vast and too broad such that I don’t know what specific work I will end up doing. I can say, though, that I am very excited to continue studying at this great college while moving toward the practical application of many years of hard work. 

Dakota Buhler

Dakota Buhler

Hometown: McMinnville, Oregon
Major: English

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

The past four years at George Fox have taught me what it means to be surrounded by peers and mentors who genuinely care about me – as a person, a Christian, a student and an athlete. I have learned to believe in myself because of the support of the people in my George Fox community. Being a track and field athlete and member of the William Penn Honors Program, I initially expected to live in the competing worlds of athletics and academia, but my time at George Fox has awakened me to coaches, professors and peers who genuinely care about my interests and want to see me succeed. I have been blessed to have English professors who support my athletic achievements as well as track and field coaches who support my academic achievements. While I expected to be navigating two separate worlds, I have instead experienced a community that not only accepts the integration, but actively supports it.

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

George Fox has been a place where I have felt free to explore and solidify my faith. My time in the William Penn Honors Program has given me the opportunity to encounter the Western literary and philosophical tradition; my time with the George Fox track and field team has taught me the joy of hard work in community, as well as the fun that can come as a result of that hard work; and my time in the English department has taught me to deepen and develop my faith through literary works, whether or not they are exclusively “Christian” texts. The multiple elements of my college experience at George Fox have worked together to help me grow over the past four years. 

What’s next?

I plan to take a gap year next year in order to work, travel and save up money for graduate school. During that year, I have plans to travel to New Zealand, Fiji and Ireland, and then to work as a supervisor, lifeguard and swim instructor at the McMinnville Aquatic Center. I am also hoping to coach and substitute teach in order to pursue my passions and prepare myself for a career in teaching. Following my gap year, I hope to attend the MAT program at George Fox, acquire my teaching license and graduate-level education, and then teach English/literature/writing at a secondary level.

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.

Andrew Dickson

Andrew Dickson

Hometown: Pacific Northwest
Major: Youth Ministry

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

George Fox is the single greatest, long-term experience in my life. It was the only university I applied to, and it gave me reasons to not apply anywhere else. The faculty, the tennis team and the student body made me want the experience of being here to see what it was like on a day-to-day basis. The things I will remember most are the experiences with my friends from residence life and the crazy times with the tennis team. Residence life at Fox is unlike any other university, and I had to constantly tell that to people who may have had a negative experience at other schools. As far as the tennis team, there is nothing like seeing 100-plus people surrounding a tennis court cheering on your team as we play some of the top-ranked teams in the nation. An absolutely unreal environment of positivity and enthusiasm. The tennis team at George Fox is what I’m most proud to be a part of in my vast list of associations and teams I’ve been with. 

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

I have grown more than I would have ever imagined. There are friends who will stay with me for a lifetime, and moments where adversity led to an infinite amount of learning opportunities that I’ll carry with me the rest of my life. One of the turning points was October of my junior year, when my grandmother passed away. She was everything to me and my walk with God. She taught me what it meant to listen to others, to bring those around me to Christ, and especially to love them wherever they’re at.

While I was at Fox, she decided to keep her illness a secret so I could focus on my studies in the ministry field. It wasn’t until she was on her seventh day of hospice that I learned of her soon passing, and I was given the opportunity to visit two days later (when she was put on hospice she was given 12 to 24 hours to live). When I visited on the ninth day of her hospice, I sat and just witnessed the evolution of life leaving the body. I closed my eyes, prayed and had a complete vision of her enjoying a feast with God, and dancing to her favorite music in heaven. After I walked out of the room and drove home, I got a call that she passed within a half hour of me visiting. Even more coincidentally, I learned her time of stay at the retirement home was 40 days and 40 nights. 

This turning point was peace knowing she wasn’t suffering, and that she can live in peace, as she was reborn in heaven. She was my hero for a multitude of reasons. Her passing while I attended Fox was God saying that I was ready to carry the torch that she carried for so long – the torch of loving those around me and being a listener and a disciple of Christ.
What’s next?

To carry on from my story, my next journey is a multitude of things. I will be moving to Seattle for the next three to five years to teach tennis to 1,300 juniors at Tennis Center Sand Point. I will be helping my father expand the family business, called Dickson’s Tennis ServicesLong term, I plan to one day get a masters of divinity degree and re-enlist in the military as a chaplain. But that plan is years down the road. I will also be volunteering at private high schools to hopefully teach the Bible to special education students. 

God has a phenomenal plan for me, and if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that God will let me know when to act and when he says it is time. I can’t tackle these things on my agenda, or else he will send me right back home.  

Britta Stewart

Britta Stewart

Hometown: Tigard, Oregon
Major: History

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been amazing. It’s been a time to explore my passions and gifts and understand how God wants me to use them. I’ve also learned the importance of community. Honestly, that’s what kept me at Fox. I had very little interest in attending this school as a freshman, but everyone, from my peers to my professors, was so welcoming that it was easy to engage with others. I quickly saw what a fun and amazing opportunity Fox presented. I think the amazing professors in the history department and my close friends shaped me most by setting wonderful examples. My community here helped me see that this was where God wanted me to be and that I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

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

I’ve grown a lot in the last four years. I’ve learned so much about history, writing and just being a person, but I’ve learned to look at situations from different perspectives and to trust God through everything. One of the most important things to learn was how to refine my passions into useable skills. I’ve been passionate about history for a long time but initially started studying biology at Fox. Partway through my freshman year I realized I simply did not enjoy biology as much as history. I didn’t change my major for another year, partially because I didn't know what I could do with a history major. As I discovered that there are opportunities in the field of history, I also began to see the importance of using the gifts God has given us. It was really difficult to understand how I could serve God while planning for a career that wasn’t directly related to ministry. However, I came to see that God gave us different gifts and passions because he wants us to use them – and sometimes simply by using these gifts to the best of our ability we are serving him. This understanding allowed me to really enjoy being a history major and work hard at refining my skills.

What’s next?

I’ll be working at the Hoover-Minthorn House Museum. I’ll also be applying to graduate school in the fall and possibly attending the following year. I’d like to eventually get my doctorate in history and either teach at the college level or continue in public history. I’ll start with a master’s program and see where life takes me.

Kacie Morgan

Kacie Morgan

Hometown: Pullman, Washington
Major: History (Minors: Biblical Studies and French)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

There are times in my life when I have looked back and seen God’s obvious hand in something. My decision to come to Fox was one of those times, and I would certainly not be the person I am today if it was not for this university. There are two primary aspects that I attribute this change to: namely, the impact of my professors and my experience as a soccer player.

In terms of professors, there are a few who stand out significantly. Jeannine Graham and Anderson Campbell in the Christian ministries department have revolutionized the way I exercise my personal relationship with God and have given me new insight about the way that I relate to the world. They have helped me to organize the seemingly random puzzle pieces of my life in a way that is beginning to show an ever-expanding beautiful picture. The other professor who deserves recognition for her influence in my life is my French professor, Isabelle Corneaux. She has helped to cultivate in me a love for language that I never thought possible, and has provided for me an excellent example of what I hope to be for others one day. Not many people can say their professors were personal spiritual mentors, premarital counselors and personal chauffeurs in the French countryside like I can. For that, I am blessed. 

The second defining factor of my college experience was my participation on the soccer team. I cannot begin to define how much my teammates and my coaches have impacted my life, or how many lessons I have learned through countless freak injuries and setbacks. At a bridal shower dinner thrown for me by some of my friends recently, I looked around and realized that 26 out of the 28 who attended were all my teammates at one point or another! What a blessing it is to see fruit from my experience as a soccer player beyond just that of wins and losses. Additionally, I had coaches who gave me chances I did not deserve and pushed me to limits I was unsure I could reach. I am thoroughly grateful for the relationships that I have built because of such an experience, for it is the memories of the times I spent with my teammates that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. 

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

I am a perfectionist, a planner and a type A personality, and in the past I often overextended myself in the hopes of being the best I could be. Being at Fox helped me to deconstruct this mindset in exchange for something so much healthier. Early on in college, I took a class called Christian Beliefs, taught by Jeannine Graham. As we worked through the theology throughout the semester, I found that my inherent belief that I needed to be perfect was not lining up with my professed belief in Jesus Christ. After many conversations with Jeannine (who was like me when she was my age), I came to the realization that I did not need to be perfect! This was a key moment in my development as a person. I finally understood that I get to share in the “Great Dance” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and take the righteousness of Christ and claim it as my own. 

What’s next?

A couple weeks after graduation I got married! My fiancé and I met in Bible 100 during our first semester at Fox (in Anderson Campbell’s class) and started dating at the end of the year. He proposed last summer, and we are going to make it official in a month. After our wedding, we will be going to Hawaii for our honeymoon, and then two days after we get back we will be moving to Waco, Texas, for him to pursue a PhD at Baylor University. Meanwhile, I will be taking a few extra classes to finish up my second bachelor’s degree in French in order to apply for a MA program in French during the spring. I am thinking that I would like to be a teacher in the future, but that is still up in the air. Although I am not entirely sure where God will lead me in terms of a career, I know he will use my passions for his glory and for the benefit of others. 

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.

Jarod McKenzie

Jarod McKenzie

Hometown: La Center, Washington
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Mechanical Engineering; Minor: Mathematics)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

George Fox has a challenging engineering program, but it’s absolutely a rewarding experience if you put in the time and effort to get your money’s worth out of the classes and the homework. I consider many of the professors here good friends and mentors and am extremely thankful for their assistance with my applications to graduate schools and scholarships.

Some of my favorite memories of my time attending George Fox was during my Juniors Abroad trip to Ireland and Scotland with a delightful bunch of friends and classmates. There are so many opportunities at this university, no matter what your background. 

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

Being “in the trenches,” so to speak, with my fellow classmates while working on tough assignments and projects has allowed me to grow tremendously with respect to work ethic and just learning how to be a good friend and teammate. Adding practical knowledge and skills to your professional “tool box” boosts your confidence that you will be a competitive candidate when you enter the workforce. George Fox has definitely held up its promise of preparing students for successful careers down the road.


What’s next?

For as far back as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the unique challenges and opportunities that come with working in space. I have been inspired to make my ultimate goal being accepted into the astronaut program. This fall, I am heading to Purdue University in Indiana to obtain my master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics.

Ashlie Hernandez

Ashlie Hernandez

Hometown: Orange County, California
Major: Communication Arts and Christian Ministries (Concentration: Youth Ministry)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox has been quite the journey. I have met some of the most beautiful hearts while being here – people who I will be close with for the rest of my life. Having the opportunity to double major, I have been gifted the awesome experience of working with amazing professors and faculty from two different departments, both from which I have learned things that will be with me forever. Having the experience I have had in meeting so many awesome people, it makes it difficult to pick just one or two people who had a big impact on my life, so I will try to find a “theme” for a few people.

Within the communication arts major, I have to say that each professor had an impact on my life. Steve, Kevin, Shannon and Courtney all invested in me and helped shape the communication scholar I am now. They continually were people of support and friendship. Within the Christian ministries department, two names jump out: Steve Sherwood and Anderson Campbell. Both of these professors helped guide me and encourage me to be honest with myself in faith. They were people I could easily talk to about hardships, joys, questions, etc. about my faith and just life in general. All of them, along with fellow students and friends, left a huge impact on me. 

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

I think a best way to answer this is: How have I not changed since coming to George Fox? There have actually been quite a few turning points for me throughout my time here, so picking one feels like a disservice to the other turning points. I think the ways I have changed the most are in how I see the world, and see myself in it. I have grown to understand the importance of my voice and the impact it can have on others. The world is messy. This was not something I was blind to, but I think how my view of the world has changed is that it is messier than I used to perceive it to be. But even with the messiness, beauty can blossom in the most unexpected places, and we each have the power and potential be a part of fostering and experiencing that beauty. And that even beauty itself can be different for each individual, as well as a community. Again, I have changed so much over the last four years, even though my goofiness and food love has not. It’s difficult to talk about it all within a paragraph or two. 

What’s next?

My next steps ... Well, I am currently job hunting, but graduate school is definitely on the table. I plan to apply this winter and then see what the future holds! If I am being honest, I am slightly terrified – mostly because there is so much unknown, but even with the fear present, there is much more excitement right now!

Johnny Kang

Johnny Kang

Hometown: Scappoose, Oregon
Major: Art (Concentration: Fashion Design)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

During Bruin Adventure, there is a roller coaster at Oaks Park that’s a little too shaky for comfort and has a loop. That roller coaster is a metaphor for how my four years at Fox went. There were times where I was unsure about what I was going to do with my life and if I was even at the right place, but there was so much happiness and laughter that made me feel so accepted. On the road of self-discovery, I started to recognize where I belonged and what I wanted in life at the beginning of my sophomore year, when I changed my major to fashion design. Since changing my major, I will always remember the very first time I used a sewing machine and the terrible skirt I made, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right? From my very first sewing class to designing a complete clothing line for the final fashion show at George Fox, I will forever be grateful for all of the opportunities that have been presented to me. 

If you don’t know Jillian Sokso, you’re honestly missing out. My eyes have been opened to a lifetime of creativity because Jillian challenged me to become the best artist I can be and encouraged me to experiment with new art mediums. Jillian was the professor of my very first art class as well as my last. This lady can out-sass everybody (even me!), and yet she is the most caring person in the world. Jillian’s passion for the art department makes me so proud to be an artist, and I will forever cherish being one of her students.

As my time at Fox came to a close, I have learned a plethora of things. If you want to be known by your community, be the one that takes initiative to get to know people and open your heart to the stories of your peers. If you are passionate about anything, get involved and become a student leader. If you get rejected, that only means that one door is closing and many others will open. Be kind, smile and be nice to everybody because there is already so much hate in the world. Sometimes you’re going to have to sacrifice sleep, eating or homework, so make sure you choose wisely. BuzzFeed videos and the Wendy’s “4-for-$4” will be your best friends. Finally, make an Instagram or Facebook because you will want to find a way to save all of your memories that you have made, and it’s amazing to see how much you change in your four years. Also, post good photos of yourself because most likely someone will find you attractive and want to see pictures of you and not the mountain that you summited last weekend. When that roller coaster ride ends, do you ever realize how much fun it was, but feel glad it’s over because your neck is in pain?

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

Before coming to Fox, I used to spend way too long blow-drying and straightening my hair and spending 30 minutes to choose a mediocre colorful outfit. Now I spend 10 seconds to tie my luscious, (not always clean) coarse hair into a bun and put on my usual all-black outfit. This is going to be very cliché of me, but when I look back at “2014 me,” I don’t even know who that boy was. I tried my hardest to cover my insecurities with confidence, and I never wanted people to know how depressed I felt. I never allowed myself to step out of the box because I had a mindset that things were supposed to be done a certain way. Most importantly, “2014 me” did not love myself and didn’t even know what that meant.

When “2018 me” looks at “2014 me,” I honestly don’t know that person because I am gleaming with genuine confidence. I can admit that I am not always the most mentally stable person, but I know that I have made significant progress with my mental health. I love my insecurities because without them I would not know what it means to be afraid and how to overcome my fears. Self-love was something I wanted to learn by the end of my time at Fox, so I taught myself and it was the best thing I could do for my mental health. Instead of pointing out the things I hated about myself, I started to talk about the things I love about myself. Here is a list of things I love about myself that you didn’t ask for: I love my humor, I love my optimism, I love my style, I love serving my community, I love my art, I love being an Asian American, I love my patchy facial hair, I love how I listen to people, I love how when my friends are in distress and I can be there for them, I love that I can fully admit that I love myself. The most important change I have been through since coming to Fox is that I have way better music taste than I did four years ago, and that is the biggest blessing I could ever ask for.

What’s next?

One year from now, I hope to have landed a career in a creative environment working with creative people. Five years from now, I want to be well into my career and starting grad school. Ten years from now, my goal is to be an established designer/artist and done with paying back my undergraduate student loans. Twenty years from now, I want to be a debt-free man and teaching the next generation of artists and designers.

Although I do not have a job immediately after graduation, I have goals I am setting for myself to keep me motivated and have something ahead of me to look forward to. I have hopes to stay in the Portland area, but I think a change is much needed. Within the next couple of years, I may be in New York or I may be in Los Angeles. Who knows? I may pick up all of my things and move to Korea to teach English. All I know is that I see myself being on the move and traveling the world. The unknown is what I find exciting, and I can’t wait to keep you all updated!

Noelle Widler

Noelle Widler

Hometown: Olympia, Washington
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Civil Engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox could be described as full – full of learning, knowledge and spiritual growth, and full of building lasting relationships. What I’ll remember most is all of the amazing people, students and professors who are so important to me now. In high school, I thought that I would never make friends as close as the ones that I had growing up, but at Fox I have many friendships equally as meaningful to me. My freshman floor is one example. Macy 1 was a pretty special group, and 10 or more of us are still in regular contact and even went on a cruise to celebrate graduating together. Also in my engineering major, I’ve had the experience of getting to know my classmates really well. Besides the school work, we got lunch together, rock climbed, had game nights, and did Bible studies with our professors. There are so many great memories that I find it really hard to sum it all up. I am truly grateful for all of the people who have walked alongside me on this journey.

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

Since coming to George Fox, I have gained a ton of confidence in myself and understanding of who I am. It sounds very cliché, but college is challenging because it’s a brand new start for most people. I came here knowing no one and not really knowing what I wanted to do. It was exciting but at the same time scary, too. Over the years, I have met so many amazing friends and professors who continually encouraged me, tested me and helped shape who I am and who I have become. A huge weight was lifted for me when I finally decided my major. I had been wanting for this big “aha” moment, but when it came time to decide, that moment never came so I just went with my gut. I know what I enjoy, what I am passionate about and what I am good at. It just took me some time to plan my course. Also, I had to realize that my major doesn’t define my whole future life and career.  It’s just the first big step that starts opening doors.

My faith also grew significantly while at Fox. I attended public school in Olympia, so my freshman year I remember it was surprising and refreshing to pray in class and feel supported spiritually by the people around me. I have also learned how powerful it is to talk about what God has done and is doing in your life to the people around you. It is both freeing and inspiring, and it brings glory to God.

What’s next?

I will be working full time with West Yost Associates, an engineering consulting firm that focuses on the water and environmental side of civil engineering. I interned for the company last summer and have continued to work part time during the school year. The work is challenging. I’ve had many learning opportunities and enjoy the fun tight-knit staff similar to my experiences at George Fox.

Looking forward, I hope that this job will give me experience and expand upon what I have learned in my undergraduate studies. I am very excited to be working on real projects that serve the public and community around me. After four years of experience, it is my goal to become a licensed professional engineer. Outside of work, I am staying in the Portland area and living with some close friends who also attended George Fox. I have found a church that I really like, and my roommates and I hope to get involved in youth ministry.

Jalen Hall

Jalen Hall

Hometown: Forest Grove, Oregon
Major: Exercise Science

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox has been so good. I decided to transfer to Fox from my local community college because I wanted to have a full college experience and be able to immerse myself in a constructive and encouraging community. George Fox did not disappoint. I was welcomed by so many people who were more than willing to be invested in my life, including professors, teacher assistants and, of course, classmates. Each successive year, I have been able to give back some of those things that truly made me feel welcome here by my involvement with sports (intramural sports and being a super fan), peer advising and being an RA on campus. I hope that I have been able to make a lasting impression on those that I interact with because that is definitely what I’ll remember most about my time here.

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

I came to Fox in a sort of rut from my past. I wanted a community that could inspire me to find out what I truly wanted to be and then fully invest in that journey. There have been many times where a sporadic conversation has posed a thought-provoking question or new perspective that challenged me to foster my own opinions and identity – something I struggled to do much of before. I can’t say that I have reached a stopping point in this yet, but the biggest changes have come from those who were willing to stop me in my tracks and hold me accountable to where I wanted to go in the long run. Whether that was professors (more than one have), residents of mine or random people I met at an event, I truly thank those who weren’t afraid to “come to the table” with me.

What’s next?

I am pursuing three tracks for my future, one of which I will choose after my gap year. First, I am looking at course and curriculum development in the exercise science department here. Second, I will be exploring careers related to occupational therapy and neuroscience through more classes and job shadowing. Lastly, I will be applying for a graduate resident director program in which I will work as a resident director on a college campus and pursue a degree in biomechanics or kinesiology.

Malachi Teague

Malachi Teague

Hometown: John Day, Oregon
Major: Nursing

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been life-changing. I have met many fantastic people over the years, and I have had the opportunity to develop relationships with some truly great professors throughout my journey. I will most remember my colleagues from nursing school and the crazy four years we have experienced together and all of the long nights/early mornings of studying for pathophysiology and pharmacology or medical-surgical nursing. There are many people who have made an impact in my life while at Fox, but I think there are two professors in particular who have made an immense impact on my education and my personal development. Paul L’Esperance and Stephanie Matthews always challenged me intellectually and pushed me to become the nurse I am about to be, and I will be forever grateful for their willingness to challenge me these past few years.

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

If I were to look back in time at the kid who first set foot on campus all those years ago, I do not know for sure if I would recognize him. I have learned and grown so much throughout my time at Fox. For me, I think the point I really realized I was changing was my first nursing practicum experience in the hospital. I remember being terrified to even attempt to be a nurse in the hospital until I got there the first day. I remember thinking to myself, “This is it, this is what I am meant to do.” From then on I knew that I was where God intended me to be, and that I was finally beginning to carry out his plan for my life.

What’s next?

My next major goal is to enlist in the United States Navy as a critical care nurse and to serve the men and women who put their lives on the line for what our country stands for. Upon completion of my time commitment, I aim to pursue graduate education to practice as an acute care nurse practitioner and serve the communities I am a part of.

Enlisting in the military is something I have always wanted to do because I felt like I had a duty. More importantly, I had the willingness to join. In high school, I was conflicted between going to college and enlisting in the military right away. Now I am going to graduate and will become a nurse, and I still have the desire to serve my country in some way. Joining as a nurse means I can use my abilities to serve my country overall, but in my mind one of the most exciting aspects of it is I get to directly serve the men and women who have been deployed and experienced things most of us could only imagine. So this is really my chance to give something back to them. 

Daniel Neumann

Daniel Neumann

Hometown: Burien, Washington
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Mechanical Engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox has truly been incredible on many different fronts. I have had incredible experiences in the classroom, with excellent professors who care about me both as a student developing into a professional and as an individual person. “Doing school” with like-minded students who have developed into close friends has not only pushed me academically, but left me with fond memories of late-night study sessions and pushing each other to be better.

Beyond the classroom, I have had friendships develop from roommates and floormates to those who will be lifelong friends and helped me grow as an individual and as a Christian. I honestly can’t pick a single best moment or aspect from my time at Fox; I think it is best summed up as many pieces together. 

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

I have grown from a freshman just beginning to experience “real life,” to someone who is ready to go out and start making an impact on the world. I have seen this most clearly through my interaction with the professors in my engineering classes. From a career standpoint, I can see a clear progression from a somewhat clueless freshman starting out in engineering, to a senior who is confident in my abilities and ready for the next chapter in life. My professors have helped me to develop as more than a student, though. While I can’t look back and see a clear defining moment where my view of life or attitude was changed, I can look back and see the life skills and characteristics that have developed through my journey at Fox. 

What’s next?

Intel! I have been interning in a mechanical engineering design team at Intel since last May and will be working there full time after I graduate. I absolutely love the work (designing CPU retention mechanisms) that we do and the challenge that it brings daily. I’m happy to be working in a place where I can directly apply a lot of the knowledge that I learned in school; this really makes me feel like I got my money’s worth! In addition, I love the broad scope that Intel has on many different people. Developing new technology through Intel has so much potential to benefit people in a positive way. I’m always driven forward by the possibility of helping people through what I do!

Maggie Plater

Maggie Plater

Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Major: Marketing (Minor: Entrepreneurship)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

George Fox has been a time of self-discovery. In my time here I learned what it means to know people deeply, academically, spiritually and emotionally. The people I met allowed me to discover a new place in my heart, a place where I can love them deeply, but also love myself deeply. The encouragement I have received from every person around me has given me the courage to truly love those around me with reckless abandon. Though my experience has been highly challenging and academic – and some of the things I am most proud of and define me happened in the classroom – I will always look back at my time at Fox as when the Lord revealed his ultimate plan for my life: to be the one who is not afraid to love and to truly love all those around me with reckless abandon.

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

The turning point in my growth academically did not come until senior year. The moment came when my marketing professor, Laurie Koehler, asked me to give her a call. When I made that call my senior year absolutely changed. In that call she identified strong points within me, affirmed me in my abilities, and made me believe that I could really be successful in these dreams of mine. From that moment forward, she became a mentor, encourager, challenger and friend. I have learned more from her in the past year than I ever imagined was possible. She realized that I was just longing to be pushed, and she was not afraid to push. She pushed me right into my dreams.

What’s next?

I am headed north to Seattle to take a position as a supply chain business operations analyst with the Boeing Company, but before beginning this position I am traveling to Malaysia and Israel. I hope to use this job with Boeing to gain experience in the corporate world to eventually move into a marketing position with a highly innovative market-leading company. My goal is to work my way to becoming a marketing executive in a fast-moving consumer industry.

Melissa Charron

Melissa Charron

Hometown: Bonney Lake, Washington
Major: Athletic Training

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been the adventure of a lifetime. There have been many ups and downs that have led to priceless memories. I think I will remember most all of the lifelong friendships that I have made. I have found my true best friends and, even though we are going our separate ways, I know we will all keep in touch and still stay as close as we have been these last few short years.

Throughout my time here, I have had many positive influences in my life, with the first being my teammates and coaches. I have been a part of the softball program at George Fox all four years here. With all of my past and current teammates and coaches, we have all made an everlasting bond. There have been many laughs, tears, deep talks and personal connections made. They have shown me what it truly means to be a team player, and for that I am forever grateful. My athletic training cohort and professors have also played a huge factor in developing me as a person. We have all struggled through the daunting coursework and the time commitment it takes to be in the athletic training program. My professors have constantly encouraged us to learn and become independent, which has made us more prepared to leave George Fox and start our careers. I am so beyond blessed to have had such amazing influences in my life.

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

During my four years at George Fox, I have become more passionate about the things I care about, whether this was my family, friends, teammates, classes or even my future career. I have found a deep and inspiring passion in me to be the best I can be. There has always been this passion in me to perform my best. I think that this stems from when I was younger, when my dad would always say to me as he would drop me off at the bus stop, “Do more than what is asked of you!” He has said this throughout my whole life, even when he dropped me off at George Fox. I always nodded and said, “OK, Dad, I will,” but it was not until at George Fox that I found the “why” in me to be the best I could be. 

I want to be successful in my life, and after having experienced failure as well as success, George Fox allowed my passion for success to grow. I remember my freshman year in Bible Survey. I struggled with the material. I received my first failing grade on an exam. After talking to my professor, however, I was not discouraged. I was inspired to do better. On the next exam, I had a significant improvement. From then on, I knew I could do better and have always had high expectations for myself, which has allowed me to become the person I am now. I am not the person to only put in half effort; if I do something, I will always put in 100 percent.

What’s next?

My first plan of action post-George Fox life is to become certified as an athletic trainer in hopes that I will be able to enter the workforce as soon as possible. I do not have any jobs specifically lined up, but I am hoping that one will become available and that I will find my new “home” there. As for grad school, I hope to obtain my master’s degree within the next five years. Having a masters will allow me to work at the collegiate level for athletic training, which is my true passion. I will then be able to work toward my calling of helping athletes get back to the sport they love. Even though I do not have a for-sure set plan of what is next, I am confident that, wherever my future takes me, I will be called to be there and will find great success and fulfillment in life there, just as I did at George Fox.

Geneva García

Geneva García

Hometown: Ensenada (Baja California, Mexico)
Major: Cinematic Arts and Marketing

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I would describe my time at Fox as one filled with loads of personal growth. I think having people around you see some of your darkest moments and still love you anyway is impactful.

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

I have grown immensely, from my experiences with culture shock in moving to this country to go to Fox, to being an RA, to studying abroad (where I solo traveled and went to a school very different than Fox). I have become a deeper thinker and a more vulnerable person.

What’s next?

I have no idea what’s next because I truly don’t have my life figured out. First of all, I want to finish my documentary on higher education that I have been working on for almost two years. Eventually, though, I want to move abroad (or move home to Mexico) and work in documentary filmmaking or video journalism.

 

Mark Nathlich

Mark Nathlich

Hometown: San Ramon, California
Major: Accounting (Minor: Finance)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Deciding to come to Fox was one of the best decisions that I have made in my life. The relationships that I developed with my professors, classmates and coworkers have forever shaped me into the person I am today. When I graduate, I will miss the community that was around me, as I know I will probably never have a community around me like that again. Being able to walk across campus and know a good handful of the people is what makes Fox so special. 

I would say that the professors here have had the biggest impact on me in my four years. They were not only some of the best teachers I’ve had in my life, but they were some of the best people I have ever met. They incorporated their faith into their teachings, and were more focused on us becoming an asset to society by being ethical and authentic people rather than the smartest people. They spoke truth to me and would always have their door open if I wanted to talk about the homework, exams or even just as friends. My time here would not have been the same without the friendships I developed with professors who believed in me from the start.

I also love how down to earth everyone is here at Fox. My friends and coworkers have pushed me to pursue my goals and dreams. I admire their qualities, which motivates me to be a better version of myself day after day. They challenge me when I am going off the tracks and hold me accountable in my pursuit of Christ. I have truly been blessed with all of the moments that I have spent with every person I have met at Fox, as they have all made an impact on my life. I am who I am today because of the love and loyalty of my friends here at Fox, and I cannot thank them enough for being there by my side.

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

The most important change I have experienced since coming to Fox is that I have developed my own faith. I grew up in a church setting but was never involved. I viewed church as a chore on Sunday and would go Monday through Saturday without thinking about God. From the start of my freshman year, being surrounded by so many authentic and Christ-loving people, I was able to pursue my own path to Christ. Being able to go to church with friends and people that I love has made me excited to go to church on Sundays, and unafraid to ask questions and talk about Jesus throughout the week. I know this pursuit of Christ that I have been on the last four years at Fox will continue after my time here is done, but I am unsure if I would’ve been on this path if it wasn’t for me coming to Fox. 

Secondly, I have been able to get involved in a variety of areas in my time here, which has made me experience the “Be Known” promise. Last year, I was able to start working intramurals, which I think has been one area that has made me grow the most. This year, I was able to co-run intramurals, which gave me experience with communicating, time management and how to manage people. I have had the time of my life working with the staff from last year and this year, as they made work something I looked forward to every night. I was also able to be the president of the Accounting Association this year, which has been a great experience helping other accounting majors land jobs and internships. These two roles have given me experience in being a leader, which will be really beneficial when I enter a managerial position in my years after Fox.

What’s next?

My first plan is to take some time off and travel with my girlfriend and parents in Europe for about a month. We plan to do about 15 days of backpacking on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, going from Leon to Santiago de Compostela. In addition, we’ll spend some time in Copenhagen, Madrid and London. This will hopefully get my brain ready for about two straight months of studying for, and hopefully passing, all four parts of the CPA exam. 

In September, I will start working as an auditor for Armanino LLP, a California-based public accounting firm. I am looking forward to being part of one of the most forward-thinking accounting firms, which is always one step ahead of the competition. After my internship with them last summer, I know that I will be learning a lot in the first few years on the job, and I look to absorbing all information that comes my way and applying the knowledge I learned here at Fox. 

Benjamin Cruz

Benjamin Cruz

Hometown: Edmonds, Washington
Major: Elementary Education (Endorsements: ESOL and Foundational Mathematics)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been incredible because of the people and professors I connected with. Every day that I walked into class, I was reminded that there are passionate and caring teachers ready to give up anything and everything they must to teach the next generation. Furthermore, they are professors who sacrifice what they need to so that we can blossom into future teachers that are grounded by Christian values. The professors in the College of Education made it easy to love and be impacted by the university. Their support made my experience at George Fox not only memorable, but important.

From all the support of classmates and professors, I have learned some very important lessons. First, I have learned that Christianity and teaching are not always opposites of each other. In fact, even though Jesus cannot be taught in public schools, many of his greatest teachings and moral beliefs are what the classroom needs. In other words, I have learned how to incorporate my faith in the classroom through my actions and kind words.

Second, I have learned that to succeed is to believe you can. Starting freshman year, I was unsure about whether I was going to be as successful as the people around me believed. It turns out that it was not until I believed I was going to be successful that I started to find success. Henry Ford would agree. He said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Lastly, I learned that the learning disability I had growing up does not have to define me moving forward. I did not start to learn to read until my first-grade year, and it has been a struggle ever since. Growing up, this learning disability never felt like a disability; it was just how I learned. The most important thing George Fox has taught me is how to use that learning disability that once held me back and turn it into something that helps me stand out. I understand what it’s like to have to struggle in school. My educational journey has been a search for the belief that I was unique and to have faith that God will use this disability as an ability – an ability to connect, empathize and meet the needs of students in similar situations that I was in growing up. God has done just that.

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

During my time at George Fox, I have gone from an unsure freshman, nervous about what lies ahead, to a teacher candidate excited to get his first teaching job. The turning point for me was when I went from, “Can I do this?” to “I can do this!” It did not occur on a specific day but rather during the winter break between my first and second semester of my freshman year. That first semester, I had hit some rough spots and had to figure out whether to keep going or decide it was too rough of a path for me to handle. Well, the latter one would have been to quit, and I was not about to quit. Looking back over the last four years has been a continual journey of my realization that I made during that winter break blossoming into a full-fledged reality. I am ready to enter the teaching field and have every confidence that I will succeed.

What’s next?

As I leave George Fox, I plan to enter the teaching field up near my hometown of Edmonds, Washington. My dream job out of college is to be an intermediate elementary teacher or middle school math teacher. After teaching for a year, I plan to continue teaching and going to grad school at night to obtain my MEd in teacher leadership. After that, I plan to get my EdD in educational leadership to become a school principal. I will use the passion that God has given me, and the ability that George Fox has helped to blossom in me, to impact the lives of thousands of students. I will forever be grateful for the passion, skills and knowledge George Fox has given to me as I enter the education field: not for my own gain, but for the gain of others. Teaching for me will not only be my career but my calling.

Noelle Ho

Noelle Ho

Hometown: Fremont, California
Major: Psychology

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

During my time here, I made it a point to take advantage of any opportunity to grow and challenge myself. The result has been four years of growth and fulfillment – and getting all the more closer to knowing who I am. I came to George Fox as a quiet, uncertain freshman, uncomfortable in my own skin, constantly comparing myself to the people around me and wanting to be anyone else but myself. Coming to Fox helped me to find my own voice. The people I surrounded myself with helped me to recognize my strengths by constantly building me up with their support and encouragement. These friends saw the best in me and gave me a safe refuge to be completely and unapologetically myself. I found people who believed in me. Because of them, I realized that I actually had something unique to contribute to the world.

What I’ll remember most is the delirious outbursts of laughing at stupid things at 2 a.m. when all the filters and facades came off. I will remember the first Koinonia, when weeks of hard work paid off and over 60 people came to support its launching. I will remember the memories of being in ASC – the laughter, inside jokes and constant roasts. I will remember the spontaneous dance parties with my housemates and talking deep into the night about the most random things. I will simply remember the presence of the people I love most in this world, during the most shaping time of my life.

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

I have become more bold and sure of the values I hold and what matters to me. I have learned how to not take everything to heart and invest my energy in the things that matter. I have learned to accept the way things are, even if they are not ideal – that “it is what it is,” and that’s OK. I have learned how to ask friends for help and support, to be vulnerable with them about the times when I am weak. I have become more comfortable with speaking my mind, even when it is contrary to what others think. I have learned what it looks like to empathize without negating my own beliefs and opinions.

What’s next?

What’s next for me is returning to the land of sun and no greenery (aka “Cali”). I’ll be traveling to Ensenada for a week to work with an organization that hosts week-long summer camps for orphanages. This has been an ongoing trip for my family, so I’m excited to reunite with the kids and my church family. I also plan to help out with a local middle school youth group and serve as a camp counselor for the girls I got to counsel last year. I’m excited to invest more consistently in their lives as they navigate through the growing pains of teenage years.

Career wise, the hope is to find a job in the Bay Area and eventually apply to an industrial organizational psychology program for grad school. Working with teams has given me a passion for team dynamics and identifying what variables make a team most effective. I hope to gain more experience in a business setting and eventually become a consultant, leading trainings and revolutionizing strategies for empowerment and teamwork.

Isaac Bruns

Isaac Bruns

Hometown: Beaverton, Oregon
Major: English (Minor: Marketing)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

It was rarely easy, but it was always worth it. Yes, I endured long, sleepless nights of homework, but I also made lifelong friends, played countless games of Frisbee, read dozens of books, accomplished projects for clients, and travelled to Greece for Juniors Abroad. God is good, and he has led me through every step of the way.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that every one of the professors I’ve had has made an impact on my life. The relationships I’ve developed with faculty and staff are what make George Fox so special to me. But out of all of them, two stand above the rest. Melanie Springer Mock built my skill and confidence as a writer, and she broadened my horizons to include writing careers I had never considered. And Bill Jolliff challenged the preconceived ideas I held about literature, helping me revamp the way I read through a lens of faith. I’ll never read books the same way.

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

My time at George Fox has been a journey of finding out who God wants me to be. At first I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to study, but professors and CAP coaches helped me discover that I was called to write. Deciding to major in English, where I developed prowess and confidence in my writing, was a leap of faith which I’ve never regretted. Later, adding a marketing minor helped me discover my career ambitions and led to a great summer internship where I got to put everything I was learning to work. Friends, classmates and professors have consistently pushed me to become a wiser, better person.

Perhaps the most unexpected source of growth has been my time working in the Academic Resource Center. Meeting with so many of my peers – across every major, Americans and international students – has exposed me to a huge variety of personalities and perspectives, and it has resulted in significant growth for me as a person. And the community and camaraderie within the ARC made it my home base on campus. It’s one of the things I miss most now that I’ve graduated.

What’s next?

I’ll be pursuing a content marketing position in the Portland area, putting my writing and marketing skills to work. I hope to use these skills to make a difference in business, ministry and charity. Then, in the fall, I’ll be taking part in a missions trip to the Philippines to reach college students with the gospel. I can’t wait to see where God takes me next!

Alli Gingerich

Alli Gingerich

Hometown: Boise, Idaho 
Major: Elementary Education 

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been memorable because of the community, and because of that, I will remember the community the most. Ever since I walked across the quad and heard the clock tower chime for the first time back in 2014, I felt at home thanks to friendly faces and caring faculty. My sophomore year, I wanted to dive into the community more, so I became a peer advisor because I wanted others to feel at home, too. It’s comforting knowing that the friends I’ve made over the last four years will last beyond the convenience of living on campus together. For example, I just spent three months student-teaching in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and despite being 7,500 miles away from campus, I still felt a part of the community. I even received several snail-mail letters from across the ocean! With graduation nearing, I am sad that I’ll be leaving, but those friendships and memories will always be there. I have a degree AND life-long friends and memories.

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

I think anyone can say that so much has happened during their time in college. It’s impossible to remain the same, awkward freshman as we all were four years ago. Aside from learning that I love coffee way too much, I’ve learned how to be self-confident, how to make the most out of negative experiences, and how to enjoy the little things in life. More specifically, though, a memorable turning point was fall semester of senior year. Last semester was the most challenging and busiest semester of my college career. One thing I learned was that it is impossible to make it through on my own, reminding me of Proverbs 3:5, which says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Chaos would ensue if I simply relied on myself. I learned to lean on the friendships that God placed in my life. They encouraged me through fellowship, laughter and advice during a crazy semester. It was still crazy, but they made it a more enjoyable, memorable and fruitful semester. 

What’s next?

I just finished my final semester of student-teaching at an international school in Vietnam, but since I am also getting an endorsement in middle-level science, I will be doing an extra four weeks of middle school student teaching in McMinnville directly after graduation. Afterwards, I’m hoping to find a first-year teaching job in an elementary classroom somewhere in the Portland area. I am excited to finally have my own classroom! Eventually, though, I hope to move overseas (preferably Asia, but we’ll see) and teach at an international school. 

Sarah Cook

Sarah Cook

Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona
Major: Social Work

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I transferred to George Fox my junior year, so I’ve had a little bit of a different experience than the usual student. I was in a rough space before coming to Fox and was terrified of not being able to find a place here. I am so thankful that people welcomed me in with open arms into their communities. I have had amazing experiences while being here, from social work safety trainings, to playing volleyball until 1 a.m. on Friday nights with the volleyball club, to internships that have shown me what I am passionate about. These past two years have thrown a lot of challenges that have taken many forms, but God has shown himself through the small moments filled with joy. 

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

I have definitely grown throughout my two years here at Fox. The social work program has completely changed my perspective on how I view life, people, God and my identity in Christ. I have grown to see how complicated life is, yet how simple God’s grace is for us. This year, all of my classes really focused on what your purpose and calling is in life. I’ve realized that my future career as a social worker is not my only destination. I want to be able to be fully present and loving to those situations and relationships that I am in. 

What’s next?

I do want to go to grad school, but I am in desperate need of a break. I am still in the process of job hunting! I am hoping to find a job where I can work with people experiencing homelessness. There is a huge need in Portland, especially in the downtown area, and I am eager to get out there and tangibly help people in need. I really just want to go out there and love and empower people who are hurting, which is everyone. I want to see people for who they are and support them and make them feel loved and cared for. I have no idea where God is going to take me, but I am looking forward to what lies ahead.

Abigail Buckles

Abigail Buckles

Hometown: Pullman, Washington
Major: Psychology

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at Fox has really been an experience of identity formation. Thanks to the support of my academic advisors, professors and peers, I have been able to really understand my own values and passions, while learning how to respect different opinions than my own. I owe a huge debt to both the psychology department and the William Penn Honors Program, my “two homes” here at Fox. Each of these environments taught me so much: how to ask meaningful questions, how to think critically, and how to integrate my personal faith with my education and vocation. I also found a supportive and challenging community of friends here, and I have come to understand the “iron sharpening iron” Proverbs 27 refers to. I anticipate that my gratitude for the past four years will only increase as I leave Fox and begin a new phase of life.

I would list every faculty member and Fox employee who has made an impact on my life, but the list would either be too long or leave out someone important. I have been constantly supported and encouraged through my time here, and will have many people to keep in touch with after I graduate!

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

There are some obvious changes: getting married, having a sense of vocation, becoming an “adult.” But I have also changed in the way I interact with the world. I used to avoid any sense of conflict or tension, and had a hard time finding my own voice in a sea of information and opinion. What I have learned is that some types of conflict are necessary for understanding and reconciliation; tension and discomfort prevent us from “checking out” in life. Now I am less afraid to engage with difficult conversations, because I feel more capable to embrace my own discomfort.

What’s next?

I will be continuing my education in the Master of Social Work program here at Fox! My husband and I both felt that our time at Fox was not over, and are excited to continue developing our vocational goals through graduate school. I am so excited for the variety of applications within social work, and feel passionate about modeling the loving compassion of Christ through serving and caring for others. While I have no clue what will be my particular area of practice, I am interested in working with underserved and under-resourced populations.

Chad Duncan

Chad Duncan

Hometown: Tigard, Oregon
Major: Finance

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

If I were to describe my experience at George Fox, it would be filled with developing relationships with professors and students. One of the things I remember most is getting together with a random group of people at Tent City and “borrowing” the Coffee Cottage sign as part of a scavenger hunt. I will also remember Dr. Liu’s management class because that’s where I first met the woman who will become my wife. While here I developed a deep passion for finance and learned as much as I could through professors like Ryan Halley, Josh Sauerwein and Seth Sikkema. 

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

I think the biggest turning point was finding my career as a financial planner, mainly through the influence of professors and my close friends and family who knew I was destined for the finance field. My faith has grown immensely through long conversations with classmates and professors alike, as well as the curriculum that is offered here. In my time at Fox, I have met many people with a diverse range of political and religious beliefs, all of whom had an intellectual approach that challenged my view of the world. This has helped me think more critically about my beliefs and strengthen them. Ultimately, I’ve grown to love academia and learning more than I ever imagined. I have a passion for learning and mastering subjects in a variety of fields, as well as becoming an expert in my field of interest.

What’s next?

This summer I’m very excited to marry the love of my life, my better half, and honeymooning in Croatia. I also hope to start working at a local financial planning firm so that I can serve the community that has benefited me so much. Soon I want to begin a graduate degree in financial planning and obtain the Certified Financial Planner Certification (CFP). Eventually, I would also like to begin teaching as an adjunct at a university, hopefully George Fox.

Elena Pang

Elena Pang

Hometown: Forest Grove, Oregon
Major: Athletic Training and Exercise Science

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox has been one of the most memorable of my life. I have learned and grown so much over these last couple years. I will remember most the amazing friends, staff and professors I have come to know. One of my closest friends I met by being randomly paired with her in an apartment my sophomore year. I will also remember the close friendships I have built with everyone in my cohort for athletic training. We have all had the opportunity to work together, learn together and lean on each other through our classes and clinicals. Being a smaller class we have been able to grow close, and one thing I will really miss after I graduate is this support system we have here in each other.

My professors have also made a big impact on me. I have had the privilege of learning from some of the best professors I have ever had. My professors always encouraged me to learn and practice my skills whenever possible. Especially in the athletic training setting, we were challenged to use our critical thinking and look at evidence-based practice to drive our clinical decision making.

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

I have changed so much in my four years at Fox. For starters, I have become much more independent and confident in myself. Those are things I felt changed a lot when I started living in the dorms. I also became more passionate about learning and my field of study over the past couple years. This has been driven by professors who inspire me to do my best and learn as much as I can in each subject. For me, the biggest turning point in my four years here came when I began working in the Sports Medicine Center on campus. I was forced to be outgoing and independent in order to work with patients on my own. Over time, that independence was not so much forced on me as it was a part of me. I really appreciate the ATCs and athletes for working with me and allowing me to build up that confidence and independence. I feel like that has really been a big part in preparing me for going out into the workforce in the coming weeks.

What’s next?

Many things are still up in the air. I am currently working toward becoming a certified athletic trainer and finding work in that capacity. I am excited to start looking for work in the field that I have been preparing for my entire college career. I am very passionate about helping people, and my hope is to be able to work for at least a year somewhere in a healthcare facility. I am also in the process of looking at physical therapy programs. My goal is to begin attending a doctor of physical therapy program by next fall. Many things are still undecided; however, I am really looking forward to this next chapter of life!

Jillian Darrow

Jillian Darrow

Hometown: Anacortes, Washington
Major: Computer Science and Mathematics

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox was more than I ever thought it could be. One thing that I will remember is my professors. They played a huge part in guiding me and encouraging me over the last few years. I have learned so much from all of the computer science and mathematics professors, and I’m thankful that we have such amazing faculty in those departments. Nick Willis helped me transition from elementary education to mathematics, and he and his wife have been very supportive of my husband and me. John Johnson was one of the first professors to really challenge and push me in mathematics. Corban Harwood showed me how exciting math can be. Brent Wilson encouraged me to pursue computer science and be confident in myself. David Hansen is one of the best professors I’ve ever had, and I have learned so much from him and his classes. Brian Snider has been one of my biggest supporters by finding ways for me to integrate my true passions with computer science. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the knowledge and support of all of these professors. 

I’ve had the opportunity to work in the student life and housing office at George Fox, and I am so thankful for all of the student life staff. They are so genuine. Kayin Griffith, the director of housing, is the most caring and compassionate person I have ever met. It’s been an honor to work by her side, and I’m thankful for the role she has played in my life. Jere Witherspoon was one of the first staff members I met upon arriving at George Fox. Her heart for students and people is inspiring. All of these faculty and staff have helped shape me and guide me. I've learned so many lessons from them: smile often, share your passions with others, be confident, work hard, be compassionate and love people. Finally, I have to give the biggest thank you to my husband who has stood by my side through all of the late nights and full days of homework. I wouldn’t be here with a smile on my face without his constant encouragement, laughter and support. 

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

After my freshman year, I transitioned to mathematics and then added on computer science. My professors pushed my knowledge and my thinking. I knew I was doing well, but I began to lose confidence in myself. Luckily, I had professors who were speaking truth and encouragement into my life. They encouraged me to speak up in group projects and in class. I struggled with a fear of failure, but they helped me to learn that if I got something wrong it wasn’t the end of the world. They taught me that it’s OK to fail as long as you get right back up, learn from it, and keep trying. Now I really do feel confident in my abilities and my knowledge. There’s still so much that I have to learn, but I’m confident in myself. It’s an honor to be a woman in STEM, and I am proud to be where I am. I hope I can encourage other females to be brave and confident the way that my professors and mentors have encouraged me. We need more women to know that if they want to be in STEM, they can do it. We just need to give them the opportunity and the encouragement.

What’s next?

I will be working for a company called TZ Medical as a software engineer starting in May. The software engineering team there is great, and I’m excited to see how I can grow and learn from them. TZ Medical is an amazing company with strong values and a heart for serving people. I never thought that I would end up working for a company that makes devices and software for the medical field, but then again I never thought about going into computer science before my sophomore year at George Fox. I’m thankful that God has opened these doors, and I’m excited to see what will happen. I don’t know where I will be years from now, but I know I will be doing or creating something that will serve and help people. I still have a passion for education, and in my spare time I will continue looking for ways to best integrate technology into education. No matter where I am, I know I will keep encouraging and supporting other women in STEM in any way I can.

Kelsey Dody

Kelsey Dody

Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Computer Engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I’m not sure a single word can describe my experience at George Fox. The first word that comes to mind is “community.” When I look back on my college years I will likely remember the high-energy moments, my favorite big events like the ’80s dance, spontaneous beach trips, hikes in the Columbia Gorge with friends, the Lip Sync competition, ridiculous photoshoots and silly music videos, intramurals ... (I could go on). But I will also remember the mellower moments: taking Saturdays slow, sipping coffee in my apartment while listening to Jack Johnson and journaling with my roommates, spending late nights in lab with my fellow engineers, cooking anything and everything in a waffle iron simply because I could, walking to church rain or shine every Sunday ...

Now that I think about it, the word I would choose to describe my experience at George Fox is “home.” I had a second family here and a space where I felt, ironically, comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone. I felt challenged to ask difficult questions and to learn what it means to have genuine relationships with God and with one another. Through conversations I have had, especially in the William Penn Honors Program but also with peers and professors outside of class, I am learning what I believe and why. I am learning what it means to live and love by faith.

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

I know that I am not the same person graduating as I was when I showed up as a freshman four years ago. However, it is difficult to place my finger on what exactly has changed. I think I am not alone in saying that freshman year involved a sort of identity crisis when I could no longer define myself in reference to the extracurricular activities (sports, music, etc.) I was committed to in high school. Over the past four years I have become more self-aware and less self-conscious. I am leaving George Fox confident in who I am, first and foremost in Christ, but also as an awkward, spontaneous, outdoorsy nerd who doesn’t necessarily fit into a single social category but doesn’t feel the need to, either. I think I have become less of a perfectionist, which is not to say that I’ve lowered my standards so much as I have come to appreciate when something is good even if it isn't “ideal.” In this vein, I have also come to accept that not everything will make sense and that that is OK. I have learned that there is value in slowing down and being still, but I have also learned that sometimes I need to take bold action and make a decision even when I am uncertain what the “right” thing to do is. In short, I am learning to trust God more.

What’s next?

I will start work as a software development engineer at Clearwater Analytics in Boise, Idaho. I spent 10 weeks as an intern there last summer and enjoyed the work environment. I hope to find a church and look forward to engaging with a new community. Over the past four years, the little town of Newberg has grown on me, and I am sad to say goodbye to campus and the beautiful community of professors and peers I have here. However, I am confident that I will stay in touch with my close friends and plan to come back and visit. I feel that college life at George Fox has prepared me to be involved in the community and to build meaningful relationships wherever I go. As for long-term goals, I would love to travel the world (I have a long list of destinations, starting with Spain) and explore the outdoors more. I also want to take art classes!

Dakota Musso

Dakota Musso

Hometown: San Jose, California
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Mechanical Engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time here at Fox has been incredible, and I believe a big part of that has been the community. An example was freshman year in Pennington Hall. Our RA was a senior who was just about to graduate, and he did an amazing job making us feel welcome in an environment that was completely foreign to us. Now, today, I am even closer friends with many from my floor then I was back then. In fact, my freshman roommate and I will be rooming again in graduate school.

I certainly would not have done as well if not for the strong support of both my classmates and the faculty here at Fox. I never felt that I was in it alone; there was always someone there to help when I needed it most. This was especially true of my professors. Oftentimes they felt more like mentors than anything else. They were always willing to listen and help with anything they could, whether the topic was related to coursework, career goals or even personal finance.

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

The last four years have been quite a journey. Engineering has been difficult, to say the least. There were many times when I was not sure how the professors expected us to be able to finish. But they did an excellent job of providing us with an environment where it was OK to not know the answers and have to ask for help. It taught me how to persevere and push on even when I thought I couldn’t go any further.

It was junior year that I had a personal breakthrough. It was then that something changed. I went from being extremely uncomfortable not knowing the answer, to loving the challenge of figuring and seeking it out. My professors pushed me harder than I liked, and I was out of my comfort zone most days, but in the end it was definitely worth it. I have gained so much self-confidence knowing my limit is much higher than I ever thought possible.

What’s next?

I have been accepted into the PhD mechanical engineering program at Georgia Tech, where I will continue my studies with a focus in mechatronics. I am not sure what direction I will be taking after that, but I am leaning toward either research and development, or private consulting. There are so many possibilities, and I am excited to see what God has in store for my future.

Nehemiah Heye

Nehemiah Heye

Hometown: Tigard, Oregon
Major: Psychology

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My George Fox experience has been one-of-a-kind, and I have grown so much in my four years here. What I’ll remember the most is watching the way so many people come here from various backgrounds and still form community. As an RA for two years, it was so fun to see how these guys were able to create community despite their differences, whether that be in race, spirituality, major, hometown, etc. And, as student body president, it was amazing to see people come together, have a good time and grow with one another as a community. It was a glimpse of the kingdom of God. The people here are what I’ll remember forever. I didn’t expect to be cared about here in the way that I was. But the ways in which my professors, track coaches, area coordinators, work-study supervisors and administrators cared for me is something I’ll never forget. 

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

A specific moment that I remember changing me the most was being in chapel one Wednesday night and looking around and realizing how all these people experience God in so many different ways. I had been searching for the one perfect and right way to do it, but this was a moment when I realized that all God asks from us is to come as we are and show our love to him. There is no right or perfect way. The kingdom of God is a diverse and beautiful kingdom. That has really shaped me spiritually in my time here.  

Also, Fox provides so many ways to become a leader, and I have been able to learn so much about leadership and servanthood. These are lessons I’ll be able to take to my family, communities, workplaces etc. It’s funny to look back on who I was when I first came to Fox because these four years have been so formative to who I am as an individual, leader and as a friend. 

What’s next?

The plan for me before graduate school is to take some time off to work and save up some money. I plan to do some youth ministry work in the area and move back home before transitioning back to school. In this, I hope to keep growing in the lessons I learned in my time at Fox. 

McKenna Tornblad

McKenna Tornblad

Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Major: Psychology and Cognitive Science (Concentration: Human and Artificial Intelligence; Minor: Computer Science)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

When I started at Fox I had enough credits from high school to graduate in three years, and that was my plan – to get out as fast as possible and move on. I thought of undergrad as a stepping stone for me in starting my “real” adult life and career. What I didn’t plan for was meeting the amazing people in the Fox community who actually made me want to stay longer than I had to. 

My very first semester at Fox I took the intro to computer science course to fulfill a basic requirement for my cognitive science major. My professor, Brent Wilson, ended up convincing me to switch that major to computer science instead because he saw potential in me even when I was unsure of my own skills in a male-dominated, intimidating field. Joining the computer science family allowed me to work as a lab assistant in the department and help in founding George Fox’s ACM-Women student chapter, which has grown every year. Even though I ended up switching my major back to cognitive science in the end, professor Wilson was an ongoing mentor and advocate for me, and the people I met in the department have become some of my lifelong friends and mentors. 

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?
I used to be a perfectionist with a fear of failure, but during my time at Fox I learned that failure isn’t even close to being the end of the world. Now I’m able to trust my instincts even in the face of uncertainty, and ask myself “What's the worst that can happen?” before taking a risk or reaching for a new opportunity. This growth definitely came from my professors pushing me to take on new challenges instead of opting for the easy route. Even though I didn’t succeed in every challenge I took on, I understand my strengths and limitations better now and have fewer hesitations about stretching myself in new areas where success isn’t guaranteed.
What’s next?

Thanks to amazing preparation from my professors in both the psychology and computer science departments, I have been accepted to Texas Tech University’s PhD program in human factors psychology starting in the fall! Human factors psychology is all about understanding people, our perceptions and our capabilities in order to design systems that better suit our needs and solve our problems. It’s the perfect blend of computing, engineering and psychology. Once I get my doctorate, I hope to join a design team at a tech company, with the goal of creating new, innovative and intuitive technologies to help people experiencing disabilities lead better lives.

Sarah Emerson

Sarah Emerson

Hometown: Camas, Washington
Major: Nursing

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at George Fox has been incredibly formative. I had no clue what to expect when I first joined the George Fox community, but my time here has far exceeded whatever expectations I had. Looking back, the relationships I formed here have been the most influential part of my college experience. There were several professors who changed my worldview or challenged my thinking, but I think the two who made the greatest impact on my life were Stephanie Matthew and Elizabeth Roark. Both of these women took me under their wing and helped foster an environment where I could grow personally and academically. I’ve also been blessed with incredible friends and peers (too many to list!) who have been there for my brightest and darkest days.

I’ve made many memories at George Fox that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Making a “super bed” freshman year, doing chair yoga in the Le Shauna lobby, traveling to Central America for Juniors Abroad, playing endless games of Nertz, road-tripping to eight states in seven days, and going on spontaneous beach trips are just a few of those memories. There were struggles and hardships during the past four years, but there has been a greater number of triumphs and joys. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities I’ve had at George Fox, and for all the ways this community has helped me grow.

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

I have experienced a lot of growth during my time at George Fox. Coming in as a freshman, I had a lot of questions about who I was, who God was, and what my future was supposed to look like. I relied on others to define my worth, and didn’t have a strong sense of self. Over the past four years, I feel like I have really come into my own. I’ve taken huge strides in understanding myself, developing my faith, and learning how to best love and serve others.

What’s next?

After graduation, I’m going to a Taylor Swift concert, taking the NCLEX (the licensure exam to become an RN), and traveling to Kenya with a team from George Fox! We’re going to have the opportunity to set up health clinics, perform health assessments, and go into local schools to provide health education. I’m excited to experience a different culture and use my nursing skills so soon after graduation. Once I’m back in the United States, I plan to start working as a nurse. I’d love to work on an oncology unit and eventually end up working in pediatric oncology. I don’t have immediate plans to go back to school, but further down the line I’d like to go back to school to become a nursing professor, and maybe even teach at George Fox!

Marlissa Wingett

Marlissa Wingett

Hometown: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Major: Engineering (Concentration: Civil Engineering)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

When I was touring colleges and trying to decide where I wanted to go to school, I was drawn to George Fox by the small, hands-on engineering program, but more importantly I was drawn in by the community and atmosphere. It was so important to me to be at a school where I wouldn’t be just a number, but that I would be known by my peers and by my teachers. My experience at Fox has been nothing short of amazing. I have met some of the most amazing people and had the chance to grow in my education and my faith.

I am still constantly amazed at how much the engineering faculty care for their students and how they support us in our journey through school. My teachers know my name, my story, my struggles, and my goals. Ben Giudice and Mike Magill have been my biggest supporters throughout these last four years, and their words of wisdom are something I will cherish for the rest of my life. They both have gone way out of their way to help me on projects and assignments, and they have helped me through difficult decisions. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have learned from these two men the last four years.

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

When I first came to Fox, I was shy,  not confident and scared to be in a different state away from my family. The last four years have completely transformed my life for the better. I have had the opportunity to live with some extraordinary people, with whom I have grown and matured in ways I never thought possible. It is pretty amazing to me how quickly this place becomes home and how the community is so genuine.

God has taught me his goodness and his love for me. I did nothing to earn it, and I can do nothing to lose it, yet he loves me anyway. Just knowing this and living in the confidence of that has transformed my life from the inside out.

I am sad to see this journey end, but I know that the last four years have equipped me to handle any challenges that life throws at me.

What’s next?

I am heading back home to Colorado and marrying my high school sweetheart. We plan on staying in Colorado and starting our lives together. I am still searching for jobs, but my dream is to get a job working in water/wastewater design. I am fascinated by water and how it moves, works and sustains life. My long-term goal is to work in developing countries to help them gain access to clean water and also educate them in sanitation and water management.

Cosmo Spada

Cosmo Spada

Hometown: Newberg, Oregon
Major: Cinema and Media Communication (Concentration: Film Studies)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at George Fox is very much defined by the people that I’ve shared this journey with and have come to know and love. My friends within the CMCO program I hold dearly, not only because they are awesome, but also because they are my future collaborators. We will hire one another on each other’s film sets, providing opportunities to work and gain experience. Even though the film industry is a competitive one, I’ve found filmmaking itself to be the most cooperative art form. Being a videographer on ASC I found to be a great way to grow my skill set, as well as a great way to meet and interact with students from all parts of campus. I’m grateful for this, as it allowed me the chance to befriend even more enjoyable and brilliant people. As I’ve progressed through my degree, trying to figure out my purpose post-graduation, I found the support of my peer group to be quite affirming. 

Initially, when first applying to George Fox, I felt like I might be constricting myself by attending the college of my hometown. In fact, going here has had quite the opposite effect by allowing me several opportunities to venture outside the Pacific Northwest. Through the CMCO program, I got to partake in the Sundance Film Festival, a week-long celebration of independent cinema which expanded my perception of what a film can be. I also was able to visit the NAB Show, the annual trade show for new technology in the broadcast industry located in Las Vegas. Getting to experience European travel through Juniors Abroad has allowed me to widen my cultural lens, including giving me the chance to visit my ancestral homeland of Italy. All of these are experiences that will stick with me for a lifetime. 

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

Since coming to George Fox I have grown into a person who is constantly seeking new opportunities to broaden my horizons. I’ve become incredibly inquisitive into all that life has to offer. I constantly crave new experiences that will challenge me to grow as a person. Learning about new subjects and developing new hobbies is how I will lead a fulfilled life, which in turn will grow me as a filmmaker. How could I portray something accurately on film if I haven’t done the research or am genuinely interested in the subject? Some things that I’ve come to enjoy through Fox are performing in improv theatre, partaking in competitive debate and drinking coffee. Even though I’m graduating college, I plan to be a student of life.

What’s next?

Currently, I am employed as a part-time videographer at Prepared Marketing, a local marketing company, as well as interning at Picture This Production Services, a film equipment rental studio in Portland. My goal is to continually expand my Portland creative network so I can further transition myself into the Portland entertainment and marketing industries. My long-term dreams and aspirations are defined by me wanting to collaborate with as many talented and pleasant people as possible, including but not limited to writing for television, feature-film directing, and fostering a multi-disciplinary creative agency. I hope to one day provide opportunities for others to tell vulnerable stories through their own creative outlet and passionate talent.

Lisa Watson

Lisa Watson

Hometown: Sherwood, Oregon
Major: Exercise Science

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at Fox has been incredibly rewarding. As a 40-year-old mother of three, the thought of going back to school after a 20-year hiatus was terrifying, but everything about Fox, from the staff to the campus, calmed my anxiety. Everyone at Fox, from the professors to my fellow students, has been so incredibly supportive. I owe my success to my professors, such as Todd Curtis and Jeff Vargason, who took the time outside of class so that I was able to be successful in physics and chemistry. My academic advisor, Steve Grant, has been such a wonderful listener, sounding board and friend; he’s been there for my tears and triumphs, and I am so grateful for his advice along the way.

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

I have learned so much about myself outside of the classroom – about my own resilience and that it’s OK to ask for help when I am struggling, both at school and at home. Being a full-time student and mother has been a juggling act. Learning to be OK with not doing everything myself and delegating has been the key. If I didn’t have the love and support of my husband and daughters, my dream would not have become a reality.

What’s next?

Prior to coming to Fox, I had been teaching senior fitness classes for 17 years. My students inspired me to go back to school and become a physical therapist. I am proud to say that I will be attending George Fox’s physical therapy program in the fall of 2018. I plan to specialize in either geriatrics or neurologic physical therapy so that I can continue to work on the generation of people that are near and dear to my heart. 

Elaine Wu

Elaine Wu

Hometown: Lynnwood, Washington
Major: Organizational Communication (Minor: Marketing)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at George Fox has been an integral part of my growth as an individual. I have met some of the most genuine and kind human beings here. They have challenged my thinking, pushed me out of my comfort zone, and shown me what it means to truly love God and people. What I will remember most from my experience at George Fox is the unique, tight-knit community that I felt here. During my sophomore year, I went through something that landed me in a dark place. I found it difficult to get close or trust anyone, and I was anxious all the time. If it wasn’t for my professors and friends being willing to listen and allowing me to feel all the emotions I was going through, I would be in a much different place today.

Also, I will never forget Juniors Abroad giving me the opportunity to travel to Australia and check off the No. 1 thing on my bucket list: snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef. That was pretty incredible!

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

George Fox has changed me in so many ways, in the best ways possible. I came in as a freshman that laughed a little too much, uncomfortable in my own skin, and afraid to speak up for myself, or anything I cared about. Four years later, I still laugh at everything, but I’m leaving Fox a bolder and more confident version of myself. I will stand up for others and myself when I need to because I have a better understanding of our value in God’s eyes, and that every single voice matters. I attribute so much of this to being on both the Fusion: Asian American Club team and Cultural Ambassadors my junior year. I was forced to have conversations about my identity and what I was putting my worth in. I was empowered by those around me to embrace every part of who I am – my culture, my strengths, my weaknesses. I learned to be more empathetic as I heard the stories and experiences of my peers and have a much greater appreciation of the beauty in our differences.

What’s next?

I’m excited to take a few months off after 17 years of school! After graduation I will be traveling Europe for a few weeks with my family and some friends from Fox. Everything after that is still up in the air!

One day, I hope to take my communication/marketing skills and move to New York and work in broadcasting. That is the ultimate dream. But honestly, wherever God calls me next, whether that is in broadcasting or not, my goal is to empower individuals to live confidently and up to their full potential. Along the way, hopefully I am able to bring joy into people’s lives in some capacity.

God has taken pretty good care of me to this point, so as sad as I am to say goodbye to George Fox and close this chapter of my life, I feel prepared to take on whatever comes next!

Samantha Simpson

Samantha Simpson

Hometown: Puyallup, Washington
Major: Exercise Science

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My time at Fox has been a complete joy and such a blessing! Being in an environment that is centered around God and having professors who are passionate about my academic and spiritual growth is such a blessing. One of my professors, Byron Shenk, was so eager to spread God’s love to everyone he encountered, and his kindness will have a lasting impact on me. I will remember spontaneous adventures to the beach or to get pie at Shari’s. I will treasure the late-night chats, and I will cherish all the friends that I have met during my time at George Fox.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?
Something I have been understanding more this year is that we are constantly growing and being formed. Like in the Gungor song, “You make beautiful things. You make me new.” Throughout my time at George Fox, there have been seasons of joy and challenging seasons of growth. During these seasons of growth, I have learned how to trust God more, especially when things feel out of control. I have learned how to have the joy of the Lord in the easy times and the hard times. And I have learned more about how to love others the way Jesus loves, fiercely and unconditionally.
What’s next?

I will be traveling to Europe, and I hope to do more traveling this coming year! Later this year, I will be marrying senior biochemist Joseph Pingleton. Eventually, I plan on going back to school for a doctor of physical therapy degree. The immediate future is still uncertain to me, but I am following God’s guidance. I am excited to see where he will take my future husband and me, and how he will use us to further his kingdom!

Murray Noble

Murray Noble

Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Major: Organizational Communication

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox was unique. Coming into the college, I was presented with a place that immediately offered itself as a home away from home. From my raucous soccer boys, to the community of honors pioneers, to the family that res-life provided, I have been surrounded by people ready to love and care for me from the very beginning. As a stranger in an unknown environment, it was immediately clear that others desired to know my story, my walk of life. My experience has been one of great joy, as even in the challenges, there has always been a community ready to support me in my endeavors. 

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

During my time at Fox I have grown to appreciate people for who they are. I think that when I first came into college I wanted people to be the best that they possibly could be, but over time I was shaped to realize we all come from a different place and we all carry the stories of our past. The diverse community of George Fox helped open my eyes to the beauty that comes in a community made up of unique individuals. Sometimes this means sitting with those who are stuck at a point of despair, other times it’s celebrating the small joys of everyday life. But regardless, it is a loving community that is unparalleled. Alongside my incredible education, it was the exceptional community of Fox that profoundly impacted my life.

What’s next?

I'll be heading into an unknown space of life. I’d love to stick around the Portland area for a couple more years, either heading to grad school or working within higher education. In the long term, I’ll be heading back to Australia, but for now I am loving the Pacific Northwest. I'll be around Newberg for at least a month, and then we'll see where the Lord leads. 

Alex Hansen

Alex Hansen

Hometown: Vancouver, Washington
Major: Finance and Management

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I enjoyed all aspects of my George Fox experience. I will remember my time serving on ASC as the VP of finance, late-night conversations with roommates, random Muchas Gracias runs, sitting in the Bon for hours just talking with people, and working in the admissions office. I appreciate the professors who took the time to get to know me personally, spiritually and academically. Overall, Fox has had a long-lasting impact on me.

How have you changed or grown since coming to George Fox?
I feel that my time serving in ASC forced me to grow the most. It was the first time I was a manager in a professional environment and had to make decisions that had lasting impact. Also, being on a team with many different perspectives gave me the ability to listen to others better.
What’s next?

The goal is to get into strategic finance by starting out as a financial analyst in a cooperation, then move up into positions where I am able to make strategic decisions for a company’s future. Additionally, I hope to have an active role in a church and be a great husband to my wife.

Jewellyn Bardwell

Jewellyn Bardwell

Hometown: Spokane, Washington
Major: Nursing

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

George Fox has truly become a home to me. I stepped into my freshman year without knowing a single person on campus, and God has blessed me abundantly with rich friendships and community. I am so thankful for the mentors, nursing professors and friends who have poured into my life and encouraged and challenged me during my time here. While it’s impossible for me to narrow it down, I think that some of my favorite memories include dancing around the clock tower at one in the morning with my roommates, helping a mom delivery a baby for the first time at clinical, learning all about Greece’s rich culture and history on Juniors Abroad, and standing alongside my cohort at the nursing pinning ceremony, getting welcomed into the nursing profession.

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

It amazes me looking back and seeing how much God has been stretching and growing me over the past four years. I think the words that most clearly come to mind are “joyous expectation.” When I first arrived at Fox as a freshman, I believed that God was going to do amazing things, yet I was scared and overwhelmed to step into the unknown. I think that learning to let go of control and trusting God in my weakness has been one of hardest, but most life-giving lessons I’ve gained during my time at Fox. As a nursing major, I’m passionate about healing and wholeness, and realizing that I can’t always heal everything has been challenging. I am learning to place my trust in Christ’s redeeming love to bring healing where I cannot. This world we live in is hurting, and it breaks my heart to see people I care about in pain. While I know the world will never be completely whole again until Christ returns, I still desire to pursue unity and bring connectedness where I can. I think expectation looks a lot like trust, but it’s a trust that steps out in joy and faith that God’s plan is far greater than anything I could ever imagine. As I take this next step, into a new unknown, I am filled with anticipation for all God has in store.

What’s next?

This summer I will be traveling to Kenya on a medical mission trip with the George Fox School of Nursing. Africa holds a very special place in my heart, and I am eager to use the nursing skills I have been learning over the past four years to serve and provide medical care for those that need it. My dream is to work as an OB nurse at a hospital somewhere here in Oregon or back in Spokane. I am passionate about empowering and supporting expectant mothers as they bring new life into the world. Nursing is an open door of opportunity that has provided me with tools to serve and bring hope. I can’t help but marvel at God’s goodness as I continue to learn, get my gloves dirty, and play a part in someone’s story, no matter how small.

Philip Groth

Philip Groth

Hometown: Skomielna Biała, Poland
Major: Philosophy

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

My experience at George Fox was a little bit strange. Not only did I have to deal with academic studies and living away from family for the first time, but I also had to adjust to a new culture and language, since I lived in Poland my entire life prior to college. In the beginning, I carried an English-Polish dictionary with me to classes. Although I had a difficult time with the cultural differences and I wasn’t sure how to navigate my relationships (Americans and Polish view “friendship” very differently), I met a wonderful person during my sophomore year: Elizah was also in Agrarian Philosophy class with me. She became my best friend and, eventually, my girlfriend. She’s amazing for putting up with me.

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

For starters, I no longer carry a dictionary to class with me, and people I meet don’t realize that English isn’t my first language. I have also become much more focused. I was interested in philosophy before even starting college, but during the last four years I dedicated my time to contemplating “the big questions.” As it turns out, I didn’t find the answers. However, I learned a lot in the process of thinking about them and about myself, the world, and about God. In some ways, studying philosophy has helped me reestablish my faith in God.

What’s next?

After the summer, I will be starting a PhD program in philosophy at UC Santa Cruz. Eventually, I will join the ranks of professors chasing after tenure-track positions, but in the meantime I’m looking forward to my studies and choosing my area of specialization (which will most likely be 20th-century phenomenology and Heidegger, or the philosophy of Immanuel Kant). 

Cassie Hwa

Cassie Hwa

Hometown: Eugene, Oregon
Major: Nursing

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Attending George Fox gave me a true understanding of what it means to live a life of advocacy and to speak truth to power. Growing up, I visited Fox every summer for Yearly Meeting sessions and knew God was calling me to this place to learn. What I did not expect was for God to challenge me in new and exciting ways: relating to people where my opinion is the minority; having difficult conversations and departing from them still maintaining love and respect; advocating for the vulnerable and standing up for what is right. My life and background differs immensely from the typical student here at George Fox, and while at times that felt isolating, it served as a gentle reminder that God has me here for a reason and is using me in unique and special ways. The nursing program provided me with ample encouragement and opportunities to cultivate a nursing practice rooted in human dignity and social justice. Through the support and encouragement of my nursing and Quaker families on campus (perhaps despite their better judgment), they have taught me that it is OK to be myself and given me tools to be comfortable in my own skin and to live fully into my identity.

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

In my second year of nursing school, a 17-year-old male was transported by his family, unconscious, to the clinic where I was working. He was carried into our building and placed on a bench. Everyone was scrambling to the scene to begin our assessments. The catch: We only had a box of alcohol prep pads, one IV catheter needle, one 1000mL bag of D5W, one set of macro drip tubing, and a pediatric bag-valve mask. Also, we were in the middle of a rural village in Kenya with no running water or electricity, in a building with mud floors.

I was in Africa with the nursing program on a service trip. Suddenly, I had an immense amount of independence and extremely limited supplies and equipment. I was now responsible for patients who did not speak the same language as me, in situations where we often had incomplete pictures of their ailments. I found the “go-getter” attitude I had relied on for so many years suddenly tempered due to fear and uncertainly. Left without many of the tools I had come to rely on through my western education, I was forced to rely on my nursing skills, hard work and creativity.

I returned from Kenya humbled by the knowledge of all that I do not know. I engaged fully with my nursing education, encouraged by the broad range and quantity of learning opportunities. My professors were a huge support for me during this time, and molded me to use my strengths and incorporate them into my nursing practice. I want to thank Stephanie Matthew and Elizabeth Roark for taking me to Africa with them and helping me grow in ways I could not have ever imagined. George Fox University has prepared me well for my career as a nurse, and I look forward to seeing where this path takes me.

What’s next?

I hope to get a job in the emergency department or cardiac telemetry unit and work there for a few years before applying to graduate school. I am getting married in the fall and am looking forward to seeing my friends again (I’ve missed you guys!) since I won’t have to be trying to pass nursing school without losing my mind anymore. Hopefully re-integration into real life won’t be as clunky as I am anticipating, but I relish awkward moments and feel up to the challenge.

Rikki Kazmierowicz

Rikki Kazmierowicz

Hometown: Estacada, Oregon
Major: Entrepreneurship (Minor: Marketing)

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

When we were little and they asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up, I told them I wanted to be a princess. In reality, I had no idea what it is I wanted to be, but my childhood self knew how to dream. My years here at George Fox have definitely been full of exploration and self-discovery. They have been filled with endless hours of homework, group projects and class presentations where I was reminded, at the last minute, that I didn’t own the right business attire. Memories have been made with teachers who care about me and classes that made me excited to learn and proud of what I can accomplish. Hours have been spent studying and stressing over exams and realizing in the end that I shouldn’t have been so worried. My years here have been marked by countless appointments in the IDEA Center with Colleen and numerous trips to Dutch Bros to feed my growing coffee addiction.

Even the smallest of memories still bring a smile to my face: building relationships over chicken wraps in the Bruin Den, embracing the Oregon rain to cheer on the Bruin football team, and getting to dance the night away on a boat in downtown Portland. College is the time to make mistakes over and over again, and try out different majors, wardrobes and nicknames. It’s the time to explore and to learn, so that when someone asks us what we want to be when we grow up, we’ll know!

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

I came into Fox excited to take on the world and scared to discover it. Growing up as a homeschool student, I have always loved the process of learning. Here at Fox, I was able to grow that love even beyond academics. George Fox’s exceptional teachers were the most instrumental part in my personal growth in the last few years. They showed me what it means to be a follower of Christ and how to embrace and love others. Carmen showed me that the history of theology can be thrilling. Ryan taught me that risk is the chance that reality will turn out differently than I expect and that it is something I should embrace with a smile. In Josh’s accounting class, I learned what hard work really means, and Sarah showed me that you can never do enough research. Even more than that, they showed me that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work as hard. 

What’s next?
Someday I just might make it to grad school for my MBA. For now, I’m looking forward to using my hard-earned degree and launching into a digital marketing role so I can learn even more about the business world outside of the classroom. I hope to also use my marketing and entrepreneurial knowledge to continue building my baking business, Little Sister Sweets, making wedding cakes for brides in Portland. I look forward to doing more traveling, too. There’s a whole world out there just waiting for me to discover it!
Rebecca Pridmore

Rebecca Pridmore

Hometown: Modesto, California
Major: Elementary Education

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

Being a part of the softball team here at Fox is what I will remember most. Softball has always played a huge role in my life, and I was blessed to continue playing the game I love in college. Being a collegiate athlete has opened up opportunity to foster unforgettable relationships with my coaches and teammates, as well as continue to teach me life lessons. There is nothing like the bonds you build with your teammates on and off the field. Jessica Hollen is an individual who has had the most impact on my life here. On and off the softball field, Jess has always been someone I know I can count on. Throughout all the hiccups I encountered throughout my four years, Jess was always there helping me solve the situation or offering advice. I look up to her in many ways and strive to be a loving, committed and resilient coach as she is. Jess has helped my perspective in life go from "have to" to "get to." We really are lucky people, and when you are able to implement the "get to" attitude in your life, your perspective changes dramatically. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do for me, Jess. 

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

As I reflect on the past four years, change and growth are two major components. Thinking back to the summer before college, I did not know how much Fox was going to change my life. On July 5, 2015, I got baptized along with my mother, Donna Pridmore, in my hometown of Modesto, California. Toward the end of freshman year, I knew I wanted to get baptized and accept Jesus into my life. However, being able to make this change alongside my mother was one of the greatest days in my life. Since then, God has blessed me in ways I didn't even know were possible. I give all the glory to him!

What’s next?

This June I will be headed to Kenya, Africa, for an education serve trip where we will provide educational support for low-performing schools. Serving in Africa has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl, and in a few short weeks I will be living this dream alongside George Fox faculty. Ricardo Sotelo, a former George Fox elementary education major, and I recently got engaged and will be starting a life together in Hermiston, Oregon. I have also accepted a second-grade teaching position at Rocky Heights Elementary School in Hermiston. I am extremely blessed and thrilled to be starting my teaching career at Rocky Heights. Go Raccoons! 

Josh Cayetano

Josh Cayetano

Hometown: Pacifica, California
Major: Politics and History

How would you describe your experience at George Fox?

I refer to my four years at Fox as my “years of plenty,” the time of my life when the harvest was abundant. I was a member of the pioneering class of the William Penn Honors Program, studied abroad in the Middle East, worked with refugees, served as a resident assistant, became published, and deepened my understanding of our God. But what I will remember most are my experiences of true, vulnerable community and the people within those sacred spaces. Here, I found my neighborhood and a place I could call home. 

Two important characters in my story are Liz and Michael Simmons, the dynamic duo who run Resident Area East. Words cannot convey the impact of their friendship, but it will suffice to say they have taught me to love the parts of myself I never knew I could love and, therefore, parts of my community as well. The other is professor Joseph Clair, who led a sorry platoon of untrained souls into the intellectual fray and trained us to be gentle warriors for the good, true and beautiful. His mentorship and example provided me a vision of the person I want to become and set me on the straight and narrow. Fox is a place that sets the table for these types of relationships, and I’m blessed to have joined the family.

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

At Fox, I’ve discovered more about myself, my world and my God in four years than I thought possible in 10. Perhaps my faith has undergone the most change, thanks to my studies and my experiences in community and abroad. I’ve learned faith is not merely assenting to principles or creeds like checking the box next to the “Terms & Conditions.” It is a full-bodied orientation toward the kingdom. It is a complete reinterpretation of the world according to the story of life, death and resurrection. Read this way, the world becomes a much more wild and beautiful place – full of mystery and significance. 

What’s next?

Next year, I’ll be attending Yale Divinity School to pursue a master’s degree in religion. I received the Marquand Scholarship that covers all my expenses, and I am super grateful to all who helped me along the way. Hopefully, I’ll be working on Muslim-Christian relations in the future, but I’m still figuring that part out!