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Growing Through Education and Community

Evy Smegal eating food at the Joinery

When you’re looking for the right college to further your education, there are so many factors to consider. You might ask yourself:

“Do I want to stay close to home?” 

“What’s the atmosphere like?” 

“Does the school have classes that’ll help me grow?” 

“Can this school help me achieve my dreams, or help me figure out what I want to accomplish?”

“Is the community welcoming?”

For senior Evy Smegal, choosing to transfer to SEU to further her education checked all of these boxes, and has been key in beginning her career path. Since she arrived, the Lord has provided numerous opportunities to build her skillset and to feel comfortable in her field of study. Additionally, she has been blessed with lasting friends who encourage one another in their faith walk.  

Moving to the Sunshine State 

Evy grew up in Kinsman, Ohio, and heard about SEU through church events as she was growing up. She completed her general education at Youngstown State University, which she chose because it’s close to her hometown. She became interested in SEU after learning about it at one of our partner sites in Ohio. Evy loved the look of the classes being offered at the main campus, and the year-round nice weather sounded enjoyable. 

“I figured, if I’m going to SEU, I’m going where it’s warm!” Evy said. She admitted that when she was originally looking into colleges, sometimes the ones furthest from home were the least appealing. In Evy’s case, the journey down to SEU was quite far from home. While her move from Ohio to Florida wasn’t an easy transition at first, Evy said that ultimately she found that putting down roots in a new community can be both life-giving and educational. 

“It’s normal to wonder if the city you’ll be located in has plenty of college-friendly activities and places to discover,” Evy advises. “SEU is a true gem, and Lakeland is a wonderful city for college students, no matter where we come from. And, you can’t beat the beautiful sunny weather we have for most of the school year!” 

Designing Growth 

Evy is a Graphic Design major and plans to create her own career around that degree, so finding a program that would help her expand those gifts and abilities was crucial. The professors and opportunities that have been offered to her here at SEU have truly grown Evy in ways that allowed her to feel more comfortable in the graphic design industry. 

“I’ve learned a lot and advanced in the practical skills I need for my degree. Many of the classes are taught in a way where we get to explore areas we are interested in within the classroom, while also learning how these can be applied to the workforce.” 

She shares how one professor in particular led her to great opportunities after transferring to SEU. “Professor Farisi, the primary graphic design professor, has been extremely helpful in furthering my knowledge of opportunities outside of campus,” Evy explained. “This summer I was struggling to find an internship, and as I expressed my concerns to him, he helped me think through my options and let me know that he would do anything in his power to help!” 

Taking Root 

One of the main concerns students have when moving away from home is finding community. Surrounding yourself with individuals who uplift you, walk alongside you in faith, and bring intentionality into relationships is important as a growing follower of Christ. Evy discovered that the community at SEU brings all of that to the table, and more. Evy says that SEU positively affected her spiritual life because “being around a community that loves the Lord and loves people brought me a healthy challenge to live out my faith on a daily basis.” This gave Evy the opportunity to experience the process of growing as an individual, while being grounded in Christ-like relationships.

There are many ways to get involved at SEU. Whether it’s working, serving, creating, or communicating, there are countless opportunities for you to establish roots for yourself and steward the gifts that relate to your calling. Through her involvement at SEU, Evy has found lots of life-long friends and experienced what it means to be a part of an environment full of intentionality. 

After Evy got plugged into student leadership, she began to connect with the individuals in her department, establishing new relationships. “Over the summer, I had the opportunity to work for our internal marketing department, SEU Creative. My roommate from over the summer is someone I now consider a forever friend.” 

“Also, going on many coffee dates with people in the community has helped me grow my relationships.” It’s the simple things, like relationships, that God purposefully places in your path, and allows you to take root in that community.


The Impact of Generosity

Here at SEU, we value generosity. The atmosphere we have established focuses on many aspects, one being servant leadership and giving back right here in Lakeland. This has positively impacted Evy as she continues in her final semesters at SEU. An example of this servant leadership in Evy’s life is with her roommates and peers. One way I’m able to give back to my community is through rides. I’m blessed enough to have my own car, and as small as that seems, I am able to serve my friends by offering them rides to the grocery store, spending quality time, or serving at church together,” Evy smiles. “Although offering a vehicle seems small, it could bless someone’s day!” 

“I believe we aren’t blessed so that we can keep it to ourselves, but rather so that we can give generously. Jesus came to earth and lived generously, so why shouldn’t I? SEU makes it easy to get involved and serve with others. It’s truly community minded.” 

Thank you, Evy, for an insightful look into the impact transferring to SEU had on the growth of your career path and spiritual journey! 


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