Fall graduates give thanks for time at BJU despite pandemic

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Fall graduates give thanks for time at BJU despite pandemic

Senior Alexandra Pierre-Pierre plans to return to Haiti to teach. Photo: Olga Manyak

For the 100+ seniors graduating this fall, having their last semester at BJU amid the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, but they are still grateful for their time at BJU and for the memories they will carry with them.

Senior Victoria Vaughan hopes to join the military in July 2021.
Photo: Olga Manyak

Senior criminal justice major Victoria Vaughan said BJU has helped her gain confidence in talking to people from all walks of life and expressed gratefulness for the interpersonal communication skills she developed at BJU. Vaughan plans to work at a private security firm in her hometown in Florida and hopes to join the military in July. She anticipates the law and justice skills she gained through her study of criminal justice will influence her military job.

Through the Public Policy Organization, Vaughan has gained experience interacting with various groups of people outside of BJU.

“Having a better understanding of how the community works [through involvement in PPO] has been very helpful,” Vaughan said.

Educational studies major Alexandra Pierre-Pierre believes this semester has thoroughly brought her time at BJU to a close both in academics and her friendships. She feels more ready and accepting of her next season of life than she thought she would. “[I feel] like I am preparing myself to eat meat,” Pierre-Pierre said.

She has thoroughly enjoyed her internship, a required component for her service-learning capstone, which involves researching music from all over the world and compiling it onto a website to provide resources for students.

Senior Alexandra Pierre-Pierre plans to return to Haiti to teach.
Photo: Olga Manyak

Pierre-Pierre said her BJU education has proven valuable in several different ways. “I have learned how to look for the basis of ideas, how to interpret what I see efficiently and how to articulate my thoughts,” she said.

Pierre-Pierre grew up in Haiti where her father is a pastor and seminary teacher. Her father also attended BJU. Pierre-Pierre said that coming to BJU was not a hard transition, but she still had to adjust to the culture. Following graduation, she plans to return to Haiti to teach.

“The most valuable thing I got from Bob Jones [University] is that everything starts with God and what He says in His Word,” Pierre-Pierre said. She encourages current students to learn to start with God’s Word and then live life considering what He says.

Cross-cultural service major Joseph Woodfin plans to get married in the spring and then pursue three additional degrees from other institutions in the areas of leadership and healthcare management. His long-term goal involves ministry through possibly both church planting and camp development. 

Woodfin hopes to gain experience ministering to certain people groups in Detroit before he goes overseas. With his future in mind, he said he believes his cross-cultural ministry would not be as effective without the liberal arts education he has received from BJU.

Woodfin said this year and final semester of college during the pandemic have served as lessons in endurance. “I need the Gospel and I need God in my life,” he said. Through a myriad of struggles, Woodfin has learned to rely on Christ’s strength most of all: “The grace and strength and peace that comes through the Gospel applies to all situations.”

Woodfin’s greatest burden for fellow peers and ultimately the world is knowledge of God. “I think the greatest need in America today and the greatest need on Bob Jones campus today is that people get to know God,” he said. He is also concerned about the amount of illiteracy that exists in regard to the truth of Scripture.

Woodfin advises current students: “Don’t obsess about your weaknesses. Look at what God has gifted you for and given you strengths for and deliberately sharpen that because he’s giving it for a reason.”

Journalism and mass communications major Samantha Veira said her last semester at BJU has been highlighted by the friendships she has developed during her time at BJU.

“I’m just so grateful for the support system I’ve built over the past few years,” Veira said. “There’s no way I would have gotten through these last couple weeks without people to call and walk around Walmart or go to dinner with, or people in my church family here to encourage me.”

Once Veira graduates and finishes her internship at Miracle Hill, she said she’s looking forward to picking her hobbies back up she had to drop with school, including painting and expanding her garden.

As these seniors move on, they carry with them not only the education they received at BJU but also their experiences here. Each of them spoke positively on their last semester despite changes brought about by COVID-19 and eagerly anticipate their futures.

Jeremiah 29:11 sheds light on the bigger picture: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”