Class of 2015 Testimonies: Part 2

College is more than an education. It's a place where you meet people from diverse backgrounds, with amazing stories. Over that last few years, we encountered some of these individuals, who just so happen to World Changers in the making. We want to honor them as well celebrate a milestone in their lives: Graduation.

Olumide Akinwande

Bachelors of Science in Finance

Bachelors of Science in Management

Minor in Leadership Studies

My graduation was literally a miracle! From graduating the Robert H. Smith School of Business with two majors and a minor to graduating from college loan-free, God’s hand has significantly been upon my collegiate career.

For those who like quick reads here is a list of testimonies! The cool thing about testimonies is that one definition for this word in the Hebrew means “to do again”! Hearing a testimony sows a seed for that same experience. A testimony simply is a window that opens up the opportunity for a person to experience that testimony and potentially even to a greater degree.

Testimonies:

  • Falling deeper in love with God and His creation

  • Graduating college debt-free

  • Owing over $3,000 from the semester before senior year and receiving over $10,000 that summer in scholarships, paying both that debt and my entire senior year

  • Receiving over $30,000 in scholarship money

  • Studying abroad to Nicaragua free of charge

  • Full-time job offer upon graduation

  • Gaining and establishing eternal covenantal relationships

  • Last but surely not least, receiving my gift from Heaven, my life partner :) <3  

One thing I’ve learned throughout my college experience is that when God gives instructions, He also release the grace, the faith, and resources to accomplish them.

“Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word…” Romans 10:17

When Papa speaks, faith is released into the heart of the hearer. Mediating and reading His word, positions and prepares your heart to hear what Papa is saying.

The Lord spoke to me and gave me specific instruction to not take out any loans. He didn’t mention about how I would be able to pay for school, nor did He mention when I would receive the money to pay for school. He often does that… There were numerous times when that word was tested! But in those times of trials and tribulation, the process of receiving the promise, was in reality the promise in it of itself! Embrace the Promise Giver. Embrace the Promise. Embrace the Process!

Stay fresh my friends!

Shalom Aleichem

Peace Upon You  

Hawi Bekele

Bachelors of Science in Community Health

Minor in Biology

 "Yea, doubtless and I count all things as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ."

Philippians 3:8 

On March 8th, 2012, I didn't know Jesus was a friend. I didn't know people had purposes, I didn't even know tongues existed. I was addicted to everything that killed you from the inside out and I loved it. On March 9th, 2012, the Lord looked at me and said, "You gonna die today." Literally. Lol. And I did. And now I'm alive in Christ. See, my degree came with countless testimonies of grace in my grades, financial peace, free housing, a free car, and even finishing on time after changing my major every other semester. But the testimony that is dearest to my heart is coming to know Christ my freshman year during my spring semester. I went from being a broken, hopeless, purposeless, lonely  "1.45 GPA" having lost soul to being set free and being made whole. This degree represents four years of restoration, four years of mourning turning into dancing, four years of failures turning into perseverance and four years of funnnnn! I didn't receive honors cause I had to retake a class but shooooott, I really believe I graduated with the honor of experiencing and knowing that there's more in God! SO MUCH MORE. So, the question everyone's been dying to know..*drum roll please* WHATS NEXT?! (Insert inquisitive "trying not to be judgmental" face here). I'll tell you what's next!! Next time on...UrbnDisciple.com .  

Jasmine Smalls

"Feed your faith and starve your doubts. Say to yourself .. It's possible, it's possible, it's possible!!"

-Les Brown

Having spent four years at Richmond was one of the biggest blessings I have encountered in my young life. God really began to show me that He could take nothing and make it into something. As someone who had grown up in the church, I was taught faith, but I had never really walked in it. College was never really a goal of mine. My mind had been consumed with stereotypes, limited thinking and a victim of one less fortunate. While in Richmond, God showed me what walking in faith really meant. He taught me that Phillipians 4:13, Colossians 3:5 and Mathew 7:7 weren't merely scriptures, but they were the substance of truth. I became more friendly, loving and giving. Not overnight, but God truly changed my heart. I no longer walk in religion or standards set by others, but by relationship entirely with Him. I thank God for his covering mercy, the opportunities of grace and love through family and friendships. I had four years of hardships, personal set backs and trials. Yet, He was still able to turn this mess into a message. As I continue to grow, I am thankful. 

A Woman Made

Where should I even start? Do you know that feeling you get when you're just in a state of shock and awe from the blessings that God has given you?  This is my current state. He has been so faithful to me during my four years at the University of Richmond. To be cheesy and quote the simplest, yet powerful quote from a Lecrae song, "My whole life changed."

It started when I was recruited to Richmond on a track scholarship; I had never heard of the school. I even had to look it up on College Board to see how legit it was, but to my surprise, it was that and way more. Can you say “Come up?" After I got accepted, I was hesitant, but excited to start this new journey in my life. But little did I know that God would show me and mold me in three very specific areas of my life: my purpose for His glory, my friendships for His community/church, and my identity in Him.

MY PURPOSE


Coming from a Nigerian home, the only career paths that were worthy of praise were becoming a doctor, lawyer, engineer or something involved in business, like accounting. Anything else wasn't worthy of mentioning, so of course I brought that mindset to college. I wanted to be an Anesthesiologist, only because it sounded cool and I could spell it. However, in Fall semester, when I took Chemistry 141 with Dr. Myers and had to study covalent bonds, acid-base reactions and had tutor sessions three nights a week, I wasn't reaaaddddyyyyy. I was struggling so much in that class just trying to stay awake, trying to care; I exhausted so much energy just to barely pass. I got a B in the class. But when I reflected on how much time and energy it took me to get a simple B, I didn't have any peace that this was what God had purposed for me.


"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Jeremiah 29:11


As a born-again Christian, I didn’t really understand what Jeremiah 29:11 meant for me. I didn’t understand that God is very clear about what He has for us, even when we don’t know. Going through the process of trying to figure out who I was and what I was meant to do was exciting, yet frustrating. Being young and not really aware of who I was or what God wanted, I tried a little bit of everything academically. I had no clear understanding of my purpose or that God was mindful of me or that my plans mattered to Him. When I was at the point of thinking about transferring for like the umpteenth time, I had the opportunity to do a summer internship with an after-school program called Youthlife Foundation of Richmond. That's where my love for education, social justice, and inner city youth, jumpstarted the path to my purpose.
It was after this that I had every opportunity to volunteer, work with, and intern at organizations that solidified to me more and more, that this was what God had for me. And the best part was everything came to me naturally. I was getting As in my education classes, networking and building relationships with my professors, and volunteering so much that I had ample experience with students. My resume had been built so much in those two years that I was able to apply for Teach for America at the end of my junior year and make it through the application process, which doesn’t happen very often.  Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, will establish your plans.” It was when I did that, consciously and unconsciously, that He ordered my steps and showed me my purpose. All the glory belongs to Him. By His grace, last Sunday on May 10th, 2015,  I graduated from the University of Richmond with a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies and minor in Education and Society!

MY COMMUNITY


Honestly, coming to a private school in Richmond, VA wasn't the most ideal situation. Most of my friends were staying in MD for college so I felt left out, and I knew leaving my family was going to be hard too, but not understanding community, looking for a church, and all things associated with building my faith, made it even harder. Fortunately, God had His plans in action as soon as I came on campus. It was on the first day of class that someone invited me to an off-campus bible study that transformed my life, God wasn’t wasting any time! At that time, I was living my life as if the good deeds I did were going to get me favor with God and into heaven, but one night there I heard the Gospel and how much Christ died so that I didn't have to feel guilty or shame when I didn't fulfill every standard of the law because Christ already did (Matthew 5:17) . Hallelujah!

It was from this bible study, God brought me to a church that was Gospel-centered and Christ-minded; every sermon left me in tears, challenging my faith and strengthening my assurance in Him. More than that, God brought me a family.; He brought in older sisters in Christ and strong women of God who showed me what it meant to be daughter of God, a sister in Christ, and a true woman of God. It was transformational and it was only by His provision that it was happening. As I look back on my time, I realize how much He pursued me and cared to teach me His ways. He showed me the true meaning of His church and what it meant to live with a community of Believers. The love, support, and accountability I encountered taught me so many things about God's desire for His church and the way he expects us to have relationships with one another. It was monumental for me because I grew up struggling with relationships, from friendships to romantic relationships. God cared for me in that way and it made me realize how mindful He was of me.

My Identity


In all these things, God was forming the most important thing: my identity. Before college, I thought I knew who I was, but God was just like, "Nah girl, you thought you knew.” I was blown away by the woman I was turning into and it was because God was the one revealing it to me! Before Christ, my identity was based on my accomplishments, my disappointments and failures, and my relationships, but God showed me how my old self was no longer, and that my identity was hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3). He knew me better than I knew myself; He showed me my faults and weaknesses, but He also showed me the beauty that was in me. He formed me before I was born and He cherished me. I was His beloved, His daughter, someone who He loved and cared for so immensely. I was His. Knowing this changed everything: I no longer looked to others for approval and I grew confident in who He called me to be. And the evidence was in the last four years of my life. This is a testimony that God cares for the growth and maturity of His children, as well as them finding their destiny! College can be a struggle, let’s be honest, but God can also do transformational work in His children as well. This is my testimony.

Hallelujah!

I am born again,

He’s alive now

I’m alive in Him!

I Choose Truth

During my senior year, just like almost every other senior, all I heard was, “So what are you doing after graduation?” This simple question easily brought me so much anxiety. For some reason, I started to doubt that law was my calling. I was excelling in the international studies field, going to the World Bank all too often, conducting my own independent research in Spain, and offering financial advice to a small village in Honduras. But in all honesty, I was not trying to take the LSAT (admission exam for law school); everybody said it was hard and I was low-key intimidated. I tried to run away from pursuing law, but once I sat down and actually sought God about my purpose, He undoubtedly affirmed that law was for me. My fear of taking the LSAT was not necessarily dispelled after that, but I knew I could do it. Well, at that point, I had to. My goal was to go to a top 14 law school, which required me to have a 4.0 GPA and 170 LSAT score. I was definitely short on the GPA, so the only option I had was to extremely excel at the LSAT. I knew, however, this would ONLY be possible with lots of hard work and a whole lot of GOD!

    Studying for LSAT had to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, honestly. A stiff person could learn how to Nae Nae faster than they could learn how to simply understand this exam. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University in May 2014, I had to deal with everyone’s Facebook posts of how they’re working at Goldman Sachs, or going off to medical school, or just anything else that had to do with growing up and making the world a better place. But I was at home…studying…my life away, literally. Mind you, I took two months to study and take the GRE. I never knew how much I struggled until I took a Kaplan course and met people who well surpassed my target score. I am usually good at setting a goal and accomplishing it, but the LSAT let me know it would be much harder than I thought. That six-week course, to me, amounted to almost nothing. With all the heaps of books and materials they offered us, I still was barely improving. I pushed my exam back two more months; as I was completely not ready. I felt I had to do something else.

    Through the Vice President of a summer program I did at Princeton University, I was able to get a private tutor for free. Can you say ‘God siced?’ Every day, I commuted to Bethesda to meet one of the best tutors in D.C. She literally tutors the kids of all the top professions in D.C. I thought that with private tutoring, things would totally change. But no, I was still struggling. My target score no longer seemed like a possibility, but I still tried. Both my Kaplan teacher and my tutor told me I should focus on applying to schools of lower ranking. And all that time, I had my family reaping heaps of pressure upon me to do well. I felt hopeless. Every single way I turned, I saw blatant discouragement, that is, until I garnered the strength to finally look up to God. God affirmed that law school was my calling, and He told me to apply for the 2015 cycle. Those were the only words I had; they were the only words worth believing. I soon began to snatch up every promise I could find in the Bible. In Deuteronomy 8:7, God promised me that He was bringing me to a good land. In Deuteronomy 9:1-3, He promised to clear the path for me to do the impossible. And in Daniel 1:4 and 17, He promised to bless me with knowledge. I recited these promises over myself day in and day out.


“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I do hope.” 

Psalm 130:5 (NKJV)


Even after getting my score, which was the lowest score I asked Daddy for, I knew I had to anchor my soul on the words of Father. My mentors even told me to apply next year so I could retake the LSAT, but I knew what God had told me, and I had no choice but to stick to it. I HAD TO STOP BEING REALISTIC AND START BEING HOPEFUL. I VOWED TO LIVE BY THE REALITY OF THE WORD NOT OF THE WORLD.

I told myself that I would not limit God’s “impossibilities” (what I deemed impossible). I knew that if it were God’s will for me to go to a top law school, He would jump any and every protocol for His daughter. So I believed and kept believing.

    When it came time to start applying, God graced me with amazing people to help me throughout the whole process. I sent out all 21 applications in complete faith, not having to pay one application fee. And by February, I started to hear back from schools. I was getting into every school (ah!), but I didn’t hear from any of my top schools yet, until one day I took a break at my job (at the #1 immigration law firm in the country, which God literally handed to me on a silver plate) and had a voicemail from a random California number. It was Dean Edward Tom from Berkeley Law calling to tell ME... that I got accepted! Wait, I don’t think you got that. I said MEEE! I had never wept like I did after that. I couldn’t even go back to work after that. I was in total shock and in awe at the same time. Their median LSAT and GPA were 167 and 3.81, with a 12% acceptance rate, and I didn’t even have a 160 or 3.8. THAT IS GOD!
    My constant prayer was God please give me what I NEED, and not what I want. And praise God for that prayer because Lord knows I didn't get close to what I wanted, but guess what? I didn't need it! What I NEEDED was to depend on God. My desires were simple: go to a top 14 law school, go to a law school with a top international law program, and go to a law school in California. University of California, Berkeley is all of that, plus more! God, the greatest loving Father, gave me the desires of my heart, simply because He placed them there and has destined me to fulfill my purpose through Him. I didn’t allow those “realities” to taint my revelation of Jesus Christ as the Truth and all that He promised me. Daddy God gave me everything I wanted with what He deemed I needed. My experiences in life will not change my revelation of God, but more importantly, my revelation of God will change my experiences in life! I learned what it meant to have complete faith in God’s promises. I came to understand God’s word as the final word and ultimate truth. Now I’m ready to evangelize on the streets of Berkeley, as well as in the classroom!


Maria Adebayo is a recent graduate of John Hopkins University, where she studied International Studies and Sociology with concentrations in Global Social Change and Development with a minor in Spanish for the Professions. Maria is interested in international law and economic development and poverty alleviation. She hopes to one day pursue a Master's degree in International Studies from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. As of now, she works at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Loewy, a global immigration law firm located in Washington, D.C. During her free time, Maria enjoys looking cute, exercising, taking pictures, riding thru the six with my woes and loving God.

Class of 2015 Testimonies

College is more than an education. It's a place where you meet people from diverse backgrounds, with amazing stories. Over that last few years, we encountered some of these individuals, who just so happen to World Changers in the making. We want to honor them as well celebrate a milestone in their lives: Graduation.

Write here...

Brittany LaBelle

Bachelors of Science in Psychology 

Minor in Religious Studies

From University of Richmond


"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us".

Ephesians 3:20

During my college years, God blessed me in three incredible ways:

He Saved Me. 

After wrestling with God and my flesh all throughout my first year of college, I finally submitted and gave my life to Christ. My life has never been the same. 

He Healed Me. 

I tore my ACL three times during my senior year of high school and I lost my scholarship to a Division 1 school. It manifested bitterness and anger in my heart towards everyone; I felt alone and worthless. Once I gave my life to Christ, He replaced the anger with His unconditional love for me and He has filled me in every way I could possibly desire. 

He Supplied for Me.

Before entering college, my mom made a declaration that I would graduate college, with no debt, with no loans, owing nothing. At the time, I didn't think it was possible. However, I began to believe and hold Him to His Word that He will supply ALL my needs, and I'm proud and humbled to say He did. I graduated with NO LOANS, NO DEBT. All to the Glory of God, and let no other name be praised. 

In addition to three miraculous blessings, I've began to understand three words that are at the cornerstone of my belief in Christ. Faith, Favor and Grace. Though I struggle to fight my flesh, and I may not be perfect, the blessings God has given me is only further evidence  of His existence and gracious plan for my life. Never give up on God! Because He will never give up on you :)


Pauline Russell

BACHELOR of Art in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Minor in Human Development

FROM UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK


“He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly…”

Psalms 84:11

The dreaded senior question: “So, what are you doing after graduation?” I've always been the girl who knows exactly what she wants. By age 19, I knew where I wanted to work, the car I was going to drive, and the bedtime I was going to have at 25 years old. I was a professional life planner and I was really, really good at it! But, I've learned that God and I both can’t be life planners.

At the start of my senior year, I began preparing for graduate school. I was journaling to God, while also writing what I believed He was responding to me. These written conversations came in handy when I received letters of rejection and acceptance. Things were not going as planned. I didn’t know what to say to God. I trusted Him, but I wasn’t sure what He was doing.

He reminded me of the promises He spoke to me months ago while journaling. The promise that all good things come from Him. The promise that He wouldn't withhold any good thing from me as I walk uprightly…. no admission, no scholarship, no job would He withhold from me as I follow Him.

Remembering who God is allowed me to rest in who I am and enjoy where He has placed me. Even if that means waiting to find out. Sure, I would love to know what I’m doing in advance, but where does that leave room for God to be the author of my life? He simply asks of me and the greatest response I can have is obedience.

I realize now, Jesus has done all the hard work while I have the privilege of following His lead. He loves to be good to me. It’s overwhelming to think this is only the beginning of His good, good plans.

Abeeb Ayodeji

BACHELORS in Kinesiology

FROM UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK


"Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."

- Albert Einstein

It's been said that transfers from Community College takes longer to graduate. Going into Prince George Community College as a freshman was humbling at first. I had to endure friends teasing me about going to the 13th grade, and critics telling me that I wasn't receiving a quality education. By God's grace, I was able to receive my associates degree in 2 years, with no hold backs. I transferred to the University of Maryland College Park 2 years ago and I'll be receiving my Bachelors in Kinesiology this Friday! Needless to say, God is faithfulllllllllll lol. Nothing that I have accomplished during my 4 years as an Undergraduate student would've been possible without the grace of Pops and the wonderful individuals that He surrounded me with. Thank you all, it’s been a pleasure. *bows*

Kimberly L. Godfrey

BACHELORS of Science in Accounting

BACHELORS OF SCIENCE IN Finance

FROM UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, COLLEGE PARK


God has been so faithful these last four years to me. I have so many testimonies to share about these past four years that this could honestly be turned into a novel, but for the sake of the reader and my hands, I will make this short and sweet.

I was accepted into the University of Maryland, College Park, spring of 2011. I was extremely pumped! I had grown up basically on this campus because my parents use to work here and so I always knew in my heart from a young age that I would be walking these sidewalks one day to go to class. Once, I received my admittance letter, I read that I was not accepted into the Robert H. School of Business. At this sight, my heart sunk but I remember saying a prayer to God that day that I desired to be accepted into the business school and from that moment I would work extremely hard to see that dream come to fruition and I asked Him to open doors for me to walk freely through. I also had the desire in my heart to relieve my parents of any financial burden that I could so I remember praying to God that He would provide a way to make that happen, somehow someway.

He did just that and so much more!! Every year, from my freshman year to my senior year, I received countless scholarships and awards that increased in substantial value as my academic year progressed. God placed me in a group on campus called Markets and Society’s that was a select group geared towards helping those who desired to gain admittance in the business school and through this group, God was preparing me for later things that I would soon accomplish. He connected me with people within in the business school who vouched for me when I was applying to the business school. I continued to go to networking events and programs where I could connect with recruiters. After some networking events, I met my recruiter for Ernst and Young and after rounds of interviews, as a sophomore, I was offered an internship at one of the big four accounting firms. I still had not been admitted into the business school yet!

Even though I had not been admitted into the business school just yet, God gave me an idea my sophomore fall semester, to start an organization called the Leading Ladies Connecting and it was eventually launched my junior year. God did so many incredible things during the time that I was not in the business school. He grew my faith and grew me up. I learned to trust Him in every area of my life; my finances, my future, my career and with my ideas. My sophomore spring semester, I was admitted into the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Boy, was I ecstatic. God said to trust me and I did. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” This verse was so crucial to me and still is. I was so afraid that things would not work out or that God forgot about me or that I would fail a test and not be admitted in the business school. But what I have learned in this whole process is that God really cares for you, He truly has your back and He takes heed to the desires of your heart that align with His will. My faith has been stretched and tested and I am excited for the next place He is guiding me to. This is only the beginning!