December 5, 2022

Humans of Gordon – Stories from our newest Scots

Rachael Baldigo '20 - Staff Reporter

TeddyMax Talanoa – Class of 2023

TeddyMax Talanoa – Photo by Rachael Baldigo

My coming to faith is really intertwined with my coming to Gordon story. I am a South Pacific Islander—there’s not a lot of those out here. My mom is Tongan and my dad is Samoan. I come from a strong family background so I had a good support system, blessed enough to grow up in the church until the great recession happened, and around 2008, my dad was out of the picture. 

Being laid off and being raised with the mindset that you weren’t really a man unless you were providing, my dad started dealing crystal meth, and he was eventually caught and incarcerated for 10 years. From the ages of eight until eighteen, I came to question the goodness of God. At the time, I was utterly confused about life and wrestled with who I was, which quickly led me to becoming a prideful perfectionist. Everything had to be above reproach, because there were people like my siblings that needed the example I missed in my own life. Through this I became resentful, deceitful, and overall selfish. An indifferent teen, I wandered through life projecting this image of an intelligent, athletic, artistic, perfect young male Christian when I was the total opposite within. But the Lord found me despite my unwilling spirit and healed me.

Two summers before my freshman year, I went to church camp, and I met all these kids that had gone through some stuff, and they were living these lives that were so cool and awesome. They were also following Jesus, and I didn’t connect those two before. That’s where I was converted, There was inevitable suffering still, but He is ever present and reminding me of who I am. At a small Christian college, Westmont College in Santa Barbara, they said ‘listen to God for the calling in your life.’

I really started exploring Christian higher education and the value behind liberal arts. Throughout highschool I had the notion that football was my only way into college. Westmont opened my eyes that education is more than learning for a singular job, but rather becoming a lifetime intellectual who’s service isn’t for yourself, but for the Lord. I looked into Christian colleges on the east coast, because I wanted to get out of California and have a fresh start. In coming to Gordon this summer and touring the area and talking to people, I really fell in love with how important relationships and integration are. 

Right now am still striving to understand how my faith can inform any field of study that I pursue. Just in the short time that I’ve been here, I’ve been blessed with an amazing O-crew and O-crew leaders and I’ve been able to fellowship and see how a Christian community can be lived out in a place like college. I’m definitely looking forward to what the year has in store.

Mikalaya Weaver – Class of 2023

Mikalaya Weaver – Photo by Rachael Baldigo

I’m from Hudson, New York. I love little kids, I worked in the nursery at church; playing with three year olds and teaching them Bible stories is my favorite thing. 

I also love animals, my grandparents have a little farm, so I grew up with chickens and goats. We have a dog and he is my favorite person, well not person, but you get it. I also love baking. I’m always baking food and love giving away food so I bake a bunch of stuff and then find people that want cookies. Be my friends get free cookies haha! 

I am really excited to be at Gordon, it’s kind of weird transitioning into college life. It’s very exciting but different being away from home and friends. I like the communications program a lot, especially Dr. Gardner. I am really excited to get an internship, maybe do a study abroad program. I really just want to travel. Any career I can do that involves me traveling the world would be ideal. 

So far I’m really liking the sense of community at Gordon, I love that it is a Christian college, as my faith is important to me. I love all of the fellowship and stuff going on. I was a little worried about dorm life, ‘would I get along with my roommate?’ ‘What was my RA going to be like?’ And sharing laundry and bathrooms, but all of that has been really good. I love all of the girls on my floor. They are so great and my roommates really awesome. 

My favourite memory so far is the night that they had a worship coffee house on the chapel field–that was so cool! A bunch of my friends and I made popcorn and sat on blankets and listened to all of the people singing and playing their instruments. The lights and chapel created a good atmosphere. The first soccer game was a good memory too, because one of the guys in my orientation group scored the first goal. It was exciting to cheer for him and see him succeed. 

Andrea Ortiz-Convers – Class of 2021

Andrea Ortiz-Convers – Photo by Rachael Baldigo

I was Born in Venezuela’s capital city of Caracas, but I actually grew up on an island called Margarita. So I grew up surrounded by ocean until I was seven, I had all of my friends on the island. When I came here to the US, it was a huge cultural shift. My mom moved here with one condition: We would continue to visit my country. Every summer I would go back and visit my family. I assimilated to the [US] culture, and once I got to highschool, I remember an admissions event called ‘Gordon weekend’. That was my first experience with Gordon. I absolutely loved it, I knew I really wanted to come here; I hadn’t toured any other schools, and it was only my sophomore year. 

I decided my senior year of highschool that I would take a break from school, so I took a gap year between highschool and community college. I graduated high school in 2015 and pursued mission work with YWAM in Switzerland and Nepal. When I came back I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. My heart said to continue mission work, because I had a passion for it. but  God called me back home, and I decided to pursue this electrical power utility program with the community college, which I heard about through my dad, who is an electrical engineer. I did it, but I said, “Okay dad, I’m gonna do this, but if I don’t like it, I’m going to Gordon! 

I went to a very different career, because electricity doesn’t have anything to do with business, but I’m thinking of  maybe working as a consultant for a utility company. I took another gap year between getting my associates degree in community college and Gordon to work for my mom, so I’m technically two years behind my class. I am really looking forward to being a part of La Raza, being a part of the dance team, attending plays and musical performance,s and I already enjoy being a part of my dorm’s community! I am a zumba instructor at Gordon on Thursdays at 10am in Bennett Center – come shimmy with me haha! 

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