Faith. Grit. Joy. Do any three words better describe the George Fox student experience over the past year? As COVID raged across the country, students learned to trust God like never before. To dig deep, overcome fears and keep moving forward. To find moments of thankfulness and joy – in academic accomplishments, in community despite physical distance, in discovering who they were meant to be.

The concept became a billboard series that can be seen on major thoroughfares throughout the Portland metro area. One such billboard features junior engineering major Tiana Ringer – the determined smile on her face expressing joy as she works through a difficult assignment in pursuit of her dream career. We asked Tiana how she has experienced faith, grit and joy during her time at George Fox.

Q: Merriam-Webster defines “grit” as “unyielding courage in the face of hardship.” Can you think of a time when you’ve had to demonstrate grit?

A: I am not naturally gifted in math, physics and other engineering concepts. When I chose engineering as my future career, I knew I wasn’t taking an easy path. But I love engineering, so if it means working harder than everyone else, that is what I will do.

During my first two years of college, I wanted to give up and quit numerous times. Despite feeling this way, I chose daily to keep moving forward, one small step at a time. I have had to adapt my course schedule frequently and take summer classes in order to stay on the engineering track, but I am doing my best and that is something to be proud of.

Q: Tell us about a time when you experienced joy.

A: The first core project that you create as an engineer at Fox is an oscillating air engine. The project is designed and manufactured individually with minimal instruction, but, I was mentored and encouraged to make mistakes and learn from them.

I spent the entire semester working on my engine and will never forget the night when I got it to run for the first time. I spent several long hours in the Maker Hub machine shop struggling with it, and the second it started running I was overwhelmed with joy and immediately started crying happy and relieved tears. My hard work led to an engine design unlike any other and I won first place in the competition. 

Q: How have you grown in your faith at George Fox?

A: Fox has been a safe place for me to ask questions and seek answers about who God is and how to be a Christ-follower on a deeper level. I have had numerous deep discussions with friends late at night in dorm lobbies, been challenged to reflect on difficult questions at EYS (Engineering Your Soul) meetings, and had conversations with God in the canyon.

My professors are great examples of operating in faithfulness, obedience and grace. I have learned how to read the Bible with different lenses to gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word. I am blessed to be at a college that helps cultivate my faith. I feel like I have found a home at Fox through the people that build me up, support me and love me.