Summer 2022
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‘Capable of a lot more than I imagined’

stories of Faith, Grit and Joy

Dayana Caamal Perez

By Jeremy Lloyd If recent graduate Dayana Caamal Perez could go back in time and talk to her freshman year self, she’d have a lot to say. But first, “I’d give myself a hug.”

A first-generation college student with a heart for others, Perez felt that she had been called to George Fox for a purpose. But when she arrived on campus, self-doubt set in.

“My freshman year, it was very hard to see anything positive,” she says. “There were a lot of changes, and also I didn’t really know who I was in this new space. I knew that God had called me here, but I didn’t really know what that would look like.”

Struggling with low self-esteem, Perez felt that she would never be good enough to pursue God’s purpose for her life.

“I always saw God through a conditional lens,” she says. “I thought you had to do certain things before you could meet with God or before you could be good enough for him to use you. I honestly didn’t think that God could have used me in any way. I didn’t think there was anything to me.”

It wasn’t until she applied for an internship with the university’s spiritual life office her sophomore year that Perez began to understand what she was capable of.

“I was scared to go into the spiritual life office, but I knew I had to get work experience somehow,” she says. “They poured into me in various ways, unpacking some of the beliefs that I had about God that were untrue.”

And as Perez began to grow in her relationship with God, she also gained confidence in her abilities and learned to face her fears head-on. A self-described servant leader who would rather be in the background, Perez got her first opportunity to preach in chapel her senior year.

“It was very scary, but it was also very life-giving because I was able to see that I could use my strengths and deliver the message God wants me to say in that moment,” she says. “I’ve been able to see myself in a different light, with confidence, because I understand who I am.”

And even more important, she’s understands how God sees her.

“I now genuinely believe that God sees me with compassion and grace, but also capable of a lot more than I imagined,” she says.

As Perez enters this next chapter of her life as a new college graduate, the path ahead is once again uncertain. She may pursue grad school and a career in counseling – “In the church, we need more people who can help with mental health,” she says – or she may put her marketing degree to work in the business world.

“I do know that helping people is going to be the primary focus of whatever I do,” she says. “I didn’t realize how much I loved others until I got to Fox. I’ve discovered it’s an actual gift that I have – to be able to listen to others, to understand where they’re coming from. It’s one of the skills that I’ve definitely grown into.”

Whatever the future may hold, Perez now looks to the unknown with hope and excitement.

“It’s going to be scary, but I’m excited for the growth and to see where I end up going,” she says. “God’s taken me this far. I believe he’s going to take me farther.”

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Summer 2022 Cover

Cover of Summer 2022 issue

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