While in Uganda on a mission trip, Palm Beach Atlantic University student Cassie Clark couldn’t stop thinking about the children she had gotten to know in the Rosemary Village community of West Palm Beach.
|Chris Lopez, Shelby Grant and Katie Sura were among the speakers during Senior Days in chapel.|
|Campus Pastor Dr. Bernie Cueto (far right) introduces Senior Days speakers (from left) Taylor Kaprive, Cassie Clark and Hannah Speiller.|
Her relationships with the children had developed from Clark’s volunteer work with PBA’s Workship program. Now a graduating senior, Clark and her friend Sara Kratz plan to live and work in inner-city West Palm Beach through an outreach program with Bow Down Church.
Clark, a native of Illinois, said during Senior Days in chapel last week that she always envisioned that God would call her to serve overseas after graduation. As a result of her experiences, the ministry and cross-cultural studies major said she now wants to challenge the conventional view of missions. She asked, “Why aren’t we doing them in our own city?”
She said that it’s difficult for students arriving on campus to know whether relationships with people they meet will be for a short term or for a lifetime. Her advice to other students: “Love the people around you, and don’t be afraid to show people the real you,” Clark said.
Kratz, also a senior majoring in cross-cultural studies, spoke about the challenge of living in God’s peace daily.
“Living in God’s peace allows us to be agents of hope to others,” the Spring City, Pa., resident said. “We are called to be examples of Christ’s peace to those around us.”
Clark and Kratz were among 10 seniors chosen to offer words of inspiration over four days in chapel. The speakers were chosen from a pool of students nominated by deans, faculty and staff members.
Taylor Kaprive, a business management major from Wellington, spoke about a moment on a baseball field at Wake Forest University, the school he attended before transferring to PBA. One day the coach asked him, “What makes you tick?”
After thinking for a moment, he realized he didn’t have an answer. “That was one of the scariest moments of my life,” Kaprive recalled.
Later he sustained a lower back injury that led him to reevaluate his dream of becoming a major-league baseball player. Through that trial, he grew closer to God, he said.
To his classmates who are going through difficult times, he reminded them that God “loves you and He has a plan and a purpose for your life, and He wants to be known by you.”
Lauren Graham, a graphic arts major from Morenci, Mich., was the final speaker of the week. Her talk focused on how a personal tragedy led to her coming to know Christ as the tested rock, the precious rock and the solid rock.
Graham suffered a traumatic brain injury during a 2011 car crash that took place days after she returned from a mission trip to South Asia.
Following a lengthy recovery, she had to learn how to eat, speak and walk again.
“The physical recovery process is brutal. Social interaction is even harder. But the hardest of all is integrating back to academic life,” Graham said. “I literally had to learn how to learn all over again, to compensate for abilities I took for granted that I no longer had.”
She expressed gratitude to faculty members Tim Eichner and David Pounds for their support, as well as University President William M. B. Fleming, Jr.
She also reminded students about the “precious cornerstone” mentioned in Isaiah 28:16.
“If your life is grounded in Him, this tested rock, this precious rock, this solid rock, your faith will not be shaken,” she said.
Other thoughts from speakers during Senior Days:
Brianna Parker of Jensen Beach, nursing major and member of the PBA softball team: During a mission trip to Nicaragua with the softball team, “my eyes were opened, seeing the faith that individuals had when they had next to nothing.”
Shelby Grant of Lake Worth, theatre major: “God’s will is all about the present. It’s about what He’s calling us to do in this very moment.”
Katie Sura of Chanhassen, Minn., biblical and theological studies major and student in the M.Div. program: “There’s something incredibly beautiful about sitting down and getting to know someone’s story.”
Chris Lopez of Lakeland, biblical and theological studies major and student in the M.Div. program: “I challenge you as Jesus followers: What do your lives reflect?”
Hannah Speiller of the New York City borough of Queens, English and secondary education major: “Dwelling on the past is not only a symptom of fear, but of pride as well … your worth is found in Christ, and that is very easy to forget.”
Mary Roberts of Miami, ministry major: “Every moment of following the Lord, laying everything down, has been worth any cost.”