Applying to college can be a difficult process, but both college graduates and current college students know that choosing the right school can be even more difficult. When it comes down to making that final decision, you start to ask yourself questions like, “Is this school the right fit for me?” or “Can I see a future for myself at this school?” or even “Will I be happy here?”
For Alicia Schaak, a current freshman at SEU, these were all questions that crossed her mind. But for her, the decision ultimately came down to the very important question of, “Is this where the Lord is leading me?”
The Lord redirected Alicia to SEU, and to her calling. This is her story.
Alicia is what most would call an exceptional student. At her high school in Ocala, Florida, she took multiple AP and dual enrollment courses, did competitive cheerleading, played flag football, studied for her pilot’s license, and was in the running for valedictorian. With this much on her plate, you may wonder how she found the time to prioritize college applications. Alicia said that she made the time by disciplining herself to set aside an hour every day to work on her applications.
Alicia initially had her sights set on a Christian college in Kansas, where she was being recruited to play flag football. Her goal was to study aviation, which is a huge passion of hers. It’s not everyday that you meet someone who is as passionate about aviation as she is, so where did this passion come from? Alicia took the time to get vulnerable with us and shared a little bit of her testimony and her journey to discovering her self-worth.
“When I was younger, I was bullied and had really bad self-image issues. To help me cope, I fell in love with watching sunsets and sunrises. I would spend hours looking at them. One day as I was watching a sunset God said to me, “Alicia, that took me moments in time to make. Yet, you look in the mirror in disgust, disgrace, and shame. I took 9 months to form you in your mother’s womb with My hands, and yet you don’t see your beauty and worth.”
This beautiful moment with the Lord opened Alicia’s eyes, and led her to deciding that there was no better way to view sunrises and sunsets than from the pilot’s seat in an airplane.
So, how did she end up at SEU studying Pastoral Ministry?
One thing Alicia says that the college application process showed her was that she needed to do everything with Jesus, and for His glory.
“When you take that and apply it to your life, whether it be sports, studies, or even filling out an application, you come to the point where you say, ‘Lord, I’m doing this to glorify you and to stay in your will,’” she says. “‘If it’s not your will, don’t allow this to happen; don’t open this door for me.’”
This is the prayer that Alicia prayed when it came to making a decision on which college to attend.
When you’re a student-athlete and are in the process of being recruited by colleges and universities, tearing your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in your knee is one of the worst things that can happen. In fact, some people who find themselves in this position view it as a major setback. But when this happened to Alicia, she viewed this as an opportunity to take a step back and reevaluate her decision process, while remaining open to seeing where God was leading her.
After further reflection and consideration, Alicia decided to look into SEU, which she had heard about through social media, the college fair at her high school, and her pastor. After spending more time in prayer, she felt that this is where God was leading her. Through the positive interactions she had with her SEU enrollment counselor, Grace, she felt even more sure about SEU as she was completing her application process.
After being accepted for admission, Alicia was also accepted into both the School of Honors and Aviation program at SEU. The summer before she arrived, she felt that God was opening multiple doors for her to step into leadership roles within the ministry field. Alicia saw that the Lord was calling her to something different, and was obedient in answering that call, even though it wasn’t what she had originally planned for herself.
Although she is now studying Pastoral Ministry with a minor in Biblical Studies, Alicia still has a passion for aviation. She plans to continue studying for her pilot’s exam, with the hopes of one day blending her passions by working in aviation for missions.
Alicia’s Advice for Current High School Seniors
The biggest piece of advice that Alicia would give to current high school students going through the application process is to do everything with God and for His glory.
“Be intentional about seeking the Lord’s will during this process. Prayer and meditating on His word daily was crucial for me, because if I didn’t do this, I wouldn’t have been able to trust in Him and have peace in the midst of such an intricate process.”
Choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions you can make, and can change the course of your life. While there are so many ways you can prepare for the process, the most important thing you can do is seek the Lord and allow Him to direct your path.
Alicia’s Prayer for Incoming Freshmen
“Dear Heavenly Father, I come to You and pray for the incoming freshmen class, those to come after them, and those who are considering transferring here. I speak peace over their lives in a way that only You can bring, so that as they fill out applications and start to think about college, they won’t be anxious or worried about the future, but that they will know that You make their paths straight. I pray that they will be able to discern Your will and Your voice, and that they will be certain of Your power and grace. I pray all of this in Your name. Amen. ”
Thank you Alicia for your words of wisdom, and for sharing your story!
By Mia Golding, Student Writer