Class of 2016 Testimony: Sola A.

Ṣọlá

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Visual Arts (Graphic Design)

Department: Visual Arts

Wow, where do I begin? College has been an interesting journey for me, to say the least. But I can testify that, during my pilgrimage, God has continuously proved His faithfulness to me. Let’s backtrack a bit…

In the 10th grade of high school, after witnessing a great transformation go on in my cousin’s life, I decided that I wanted to skip a grade in order to attend a one-year internship and experience this amazing transformation firsthand. By the end of the following school year, I graduated, and six months later, I was in the middle of nowhere in East Texas, encountering God through life-changing events on a daily basis. That one year impacted my life in an indescribable way, so much so, that when the time came to transition into college, I had no desire to do so.

So coming back home to start school was like pulling teeth, let alone starting in “community” college. I didn’t quite have a community to plug into. All my friends from high school had either become wayward friends or gone off to college in various locations. I had no one, and as a result, I lost a grip on the goals and standards I had set for myself while in Texas. I can reflect on countless times in which my grades didn’t look too hot. Other times I’d miss an exam and have an empathetic professor who would allow me to make it up. I lost focus, in school and on God in general. So many situations happened in my life and in my schooling that could have had dreadful consequences. But even in the midst of becoming faithless, God remained faithful.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself
— 2 Timothy 2:13

Fast forward a little further, community found me! Through a friend, God placed me in a community. A place where I could grow and be encouraged by like-minded brothers, sisters, and leaders. I realized my errors and began to really seek God about where He wanted me to be, what He wanted me to do, and what major I should pursue. He began to remind me of the gifts He granted me and as I continued to commit school to Him, I learned that I would use my creative talents to glorify Him perpetually.

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago
— Ephesians 2:10

After 2.5 years in community college, I finished strong, graduating with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Graphic Design. I prepared to move on to University, which was another challenge in itself. Chai, school got hard! You would think that art would be easy and effortless, right? Yeah, no, not at all. Even moreso, so many other things weighed in on my education; so much pressure. It’s as if life began to pick up and throw its curve balls directly at me.

My first semester was hard, but it only became more difficult from there. Once again, I was placed in situations where I literally had to rely on God’s strength and not my own. From praying through assignments to crying through others. From being scared to check my grades or lose a scholarship, though I gave my all. Dealing with the stress of only having 2 years to graduate when I felt as though I may have needed more time, having challenges with my health and going in and out of the hospital while trying to stay on track with assignments, struggling with my grandmother’s unexpected passing, juggling multiple internships, fellowship, school, and jobs, having seriously petty professors (it’s art *rolls eyes*)... man the weight was heavy. But wow, I can’t even find the exact words to describe how faithful and merciful God has been.

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

I have l i t e r a l l y seen the mighty hand of God move in my life. He has seen me through sleepless nights, weeks, months. He blessed me with classmates that supported me through school. He’s been merciful, granting me multiple grade changes and excused assessments. He’s supplied me with friends and family to be strong for me and pray for me, consistently present by my bedside when I was weak. He’s granted me unique opportunities to develop and advance as a designer. He’s caused my professors to sacrifice their time to see me prosper and even vouch for me… And I am only mentioning the least.

When I was down, He encouraged me. When I doubted, He restored my confidence and faith. When I felt defeated, He reminded me that I am victorious through Him. And now I can declare that I am a graduate! I made it through those 2 years and it was only possible with God! So for that, I am beyond grateful and excited to continue my creative journey. I am ready to dream a new dream with Him!

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness”
— Psalm 115:1