STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 06/18/2009

In Focus: Students

A Former Refugee's Heart for Darfur
Gabriel John '08

My name is Gabriel John. I am from Sudan, and I became a U.S citizen last month. For eight years I lived in a refugee camp in Kenya; however, I never thought it was a possibility to come to the United States. Life in the camp was a struggle-never enough food, and though education was there, it was a struggle to concentrate when we were only eating one meal a day. When you or a friend got sick, you just prayed that everything would be okay--there were hospitals, but there was only so much help they could give you because the facilities were so limited.  During this time many people died. I was in the camp without my parents because when civil war broke out in Sudan I was separated from them.

But through all these hardships God was with me and brought me to the United States. It has been a long journey to Massachusetts and to Gordon College, and many people have helped me along the way. Alberta Nutile, a foster mom of my cousin, accepted me to live with her in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Tymann family and others in the Gordon community were instrumental in helping me get to Gordon. I wanted to be in an environment where I can learn and grow in Christ, and I have not been disappointed.

Though I am safe now, I think a great deal about the situation in Sudan that I left behind. Darfur, in the western part of the Sudan, has been in crisis for the last four years. About two million people have been forced to flee their homeland and are suffering from violence and atrocities. I hope the world opens its eyes and saves these innocent people--they are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. These people shouldn't be killed and tortured for their faith.

I still cry every time I read an article about the situation in Darfur. I cannot stop thinking about them. There is nothing like freedom, and these people don't have that. Is it good for human beings to live their lives in fear? We Christians don't fight, but our weapon is prayer and unity. Here at Gordon we have formed the group Save Darfur. It is not too late to do something--it is never too late to save lives.

Gabriel John is an accounting major. He is grateful to the many people who have helped him in his journey to the United States and to Gordon College. 

Find your local Save Darfur group at

Running for Awareness
Jonathan Phelps '08

Although Nick Ware '10 was only one face in the crowd running the 110th annual Boston Marathon, he stood out with his ungroomed beard and the words "Save Darfur" brightly painted on his shaved head. "I was planning to run the marathon anyway," said Ware. "I thought it would be a good springboard to raise awareness of what's going on in Darfur." Ware promoted his run to "Save Darfur" through the popular college networking website Facebook as well as speaking at local churches and working with the Gordon College Save Darfur Movement. Ware says, "This wouldn't be tolerated in the United States, and the people of Darfur aren't any less deserving of safety than we are."

GCSA Casts a Vision
Prashan De Visser '08 has been elected president and Megan Thompson '08 vice president of the Gordon College Student Association for 2007-08. Thompson is a Pike Scholar (urban studies) and political studies major with a Spanish minor. De Visser is an economics and international affairs double major. The two student leaders hope to spark conversations about vocation and community among an increasingly diverse student body. They state: "One of the most crucial questions for students as they come to the end of their time at Gordon is 'Where do I go from here?' The answer to this question is never going to become known in isolation."

Unpacking Uganda
Nicole Klink '07

Coming back to Gordon after a semester at Uganda Christian University (UCU) was really hard. I walked around like a zombie, comparing everything to Uganda. No one else seemed to realize that wearing jeans, eating cold cereal and sitting on porcelain were all privileges. For awhile I took the easiest option: I became detached and disconnected. One of the biggest lessons I'd learned in Uganda was that I don't have all the answers--and I somehow used this acknowledgment as an excuse for inaction. Everything I wanted to do for Africa I figured would be counteracted with some sort of corruption. Living at college felt like being in a rat cage I had to wait to get out of to actually do something.

After a month of inward struggle and outward complacency, I finally got my knees dirty praying. And God worked. I started sharing stories rather than bottling them up. I met with my friend Amy Spaulding '07, who had just gotten back from the Middle East Studies Program and was struggling with the same issues. Within days we were gathering with other people passionate about the world and about life, and talking about what it means to live out our convictions at Gordon. Eventually we developed a whole network of students who were already in groups ranging from Homeless Ministry to Save Darfur, from Amnesty International to the Summer Missions Program. This network evolved into the Social Justice Initiative, an umbrella organization that connects and encourages groups on campus that seek to be socially just. 

Uganda has taught me to revolutionize my daily life. I struggle to live simply, take time for relationships, approach issues in humility, take risks, appreciate the little things in life, be a steward of the environment, and thank God for where I am now. Struggling with Africa was one life-changing experience, but struggling with the U.S. is a whole other one. I am glad God finally shook me to action because I have probably learned as much "recovering" from Africa as I did while I was there.  

The Uganda Studies Program is a CCCU (Council of Christian Colleges & Universities) BestSemester program, partnering with UCU in Mukono, Uganda. Nicole Klink is a psychology major from North Dighton, Massachusetts. To learn more about these CCCU programs visit or

Fulbright Scholars Named
Taryn Knerr '07, a double major in German and mathematics, will be placed by the Fulbright Commission in a school in Bad Muenstereifel, Germany, to teach English. She also plans to audit university courses while fulfilling her teaching assistantship. Upon her return she plans to pursue a master's degree in German literature. Knerr is also the recipient of a Calvin College Academic Achievement Award.

Daniel Santimore '07, a double major in ancient languages and biblical studies, and a minor in Ancient Near Eastern studies, received his grant to study and research in Israel, where he will attend Hebrew University in Jerusalem. During his Fulbright year his research will focus on the religion of ancient Philistine culture. He is currently contributing to a book project on Philistine religion with Dr. Elaine Phillips, professor of biblical and theological studies at Gordon.

Biology in Print
Tiffany Hurlbut '07 has been accepted into Harvard University for graduate studies in biology education, with plans to be a high school teacher. Tiffany worked on her honors research with professor of biology Ming Zheng and gave a presentation to the New England Society of Microscopy in December 2006. Her senior thesis, "Developmental Dynamics of Wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) Microspores in Culture," has been submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal, In Vitro Developmental Biology-Plants, and is currently under review.

Kara Raychard '07, also a biology major, has authored a paper describing a new species of parasite from a deep-sea bass from the Bay of Campeche. The paper will be submitted for review to The Journal of Parasitology, the journal produced by the American Society of Parasitology, our nation's national association for this discipline. Raychard performed all the research and measurements, and wrote the manuscript, assisted with edits by Dr. Chuck Blend, associate professor of biology.


Gabriel John
Megan and Prashan
Nicole Klink