From Serbia to St. Louis, Alumni Make an Impact
As Asbury University students settle into the routine of Chapel, classes, sports and other student activities, recent alumni are already putting their education to work around the world. Here is a look at just a few examples of the ways young alumni are already impacting the world:
Spreading the Word
As a student, Susannah Bretz ’12 was a member of one of Asbury University’s Summer Ministry Teams — an experience in which a small group of students travels to different locations around the United States to support churches, minister to youth and share their faith. This year, she’s doing the same type of work on a worldwide scale through The World Race. Beginning in July, she and a team of fellow believers launched on an adventure that will take them to 11 countries in 11 months to serve “the least of these” and forge an authentic community.
By the end of August, Bretz and her team had ministered in Albania and Serbia, with Romania next on the list. As they move deeper into their itinerary, the ability to trust and rejoice at all times has joined the growing list of “survival skills” she’s learned through international travel.
“I trust that God is going to take care of and provide for us always,” she said. “And that wherever we are, we are there for a reason. Even if we’re sitting on train station floor for 10 hours in Sofia, Bulgaria, surrounded by pigeons. Or piled seven people high in the care of our hostel owner, who graciously offered to take us to the train station so we wouldn’t have to arrange for a taxi. Or next to a couple of guys from England and Holland for a nine-hour-long train ride to Serbia. Let me tell you, not knowing where you’ll be the next day is a great opportunity to see God at work.”
Investing in the Arts
Eric Thein ’13 was winning film festival kudos in Louisville before his short film, “Comfortable,” made a splash at Asbury’s own Highbridge Film Festival. The film will be screened this fall at festivals in Orlando, Fla., and Knoxville, Tenn., but he isn’t resting on his laurels: the summer was filled with several additional film projects.
“I'm currently writing the feature version of ‘Comfortable,’ along with writing another un-related project,” he said. “This summer I worked on ‘Hope Bridge’ as key grip, and I was a production assistant on another film in Illinois called ‘LowLifes.’ I am currently planning a film with Daniel Bowman ’14 in which I will be the director of photography.”
When Kylie Abegg ’13 spent the Fall semester of her senior year in Washington, D.C., she became familiar with the work of the International Justice Mission (IJM), a non-profit human rights agency that works to free victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. After graduation, she reconnected with the organization … in Cambodia. She has committed to spending the next year working in IJM’s offices in Phnom Penh.
After a recent trip to a remote province of the country, Abegg wrote the following:
“One thing I've always struggled with is understanding why and how families could ‘sell’ their daughters. But driving through the remote shacks near the rice fields helped me to understand. There are no schools for miles. No way for a better life. Your children are doomed to follow in your footsteps and to remain in poverty as long as they live. So when a nice stranger from the city comes and tells you that your daughter can have a good job working at a restaurant, how are you to know he will sell her? How would you know if no one has ever told you? How would you see the dangers when you are blinded by hope?
“Cambodia is country filled with hope and juxtaposed with darkness. God is needed here. I'm thankful for the work that we get to do at IJM Cambodia, particularly the fact that we are building up the church community.”
Asking important questions
After a brief break over the summer, Audra Goodnight ’13 is traveling even deeper into the academic world as she begins a five-year, full-scholarship program in philosophy at St. Louis University. As she works toward a doctoral degree, she plans to investigate questions concerning personhood — for example, what does it mean to be a person? Are all humans persons? And why are persons sometimes treated as property?
“Asbury provided an intellectual framework from which I am equipped to fill in the details through further education,” Goodnight said. “I was given a foundation in a variety of disciplines, which not only give me an appreciation for all areas of academia, but also prepare me to be a well-rounded, educated person. Asbury also encouraged me to strengthen and grow in my faith so as to be ready for living independently among all different types of people and beliefs.”