By Julie Cole
Chelsea Kooistra values serving and connecting with others wherever she is.
The Okatoks, Alb. resident first found out about Briercrest at a college and career fair.
“I actually wrote it off,” she said, “because I was like, ‘I’ll never go to Saskatchewan!’”
The dorm program eventually coaxed her into giving Briercrest a try.
“I wanted to live away from home and kind of experience dorm life,” she recounted. “So I came out here for a visit, really enjoyed it and decided to come for the year.”
Kooistra’s path to a four-year degree was a gradual one.
“When I came to Briercrest I only planned to do one year,” she said. “Then I decided to do an AA. Then at the end of two years I just decided to buy in for the whole thing.”
Kooistra graduated this last May with honours. She says the time she’s spent learning from her English professor Sean Davidson has been really formative for her.
“English was one of my least favourite subjects in high school,” she admitted. “(Davidson) was patient with me and eventually asked me to step into a kind of role that helps others who kind of struggle.”
Kooistra also served in student government and as a residence assistant during her time at Briercrest. After graduation she looks forward to “plugging in” at her home church, Okotoks Evangelical Free Church.
“During my time here I’ve really grown in my love for the church — especially the local church,” she said. “I’ll probably work part time doing something like teaching piano . . . but then also be involved in worship and women’s ministries at my home church.”
The graduate lists her dorm experiences as one of her favourite memories of Briercrest.
“I didn’t have sisters so it was kind of like getting to walk into a big building of sisters.”
Her college trek has influenced her brothers back home. In 2008 one of her younger brothers joined her at Briercrest for a year. Her youngest brother just got accepted into the Briercrest Kaleìo program at Camp Quanoes in Vancouver, BC. He plans to attend there next year.
Kooistra also encourages others to try out her alma mater.
“You’ll learn amazing things about yourself,” she insisted, “about who God is and who you are in the light of that. (Briercrest) is an incredible community with so many things that contribute to forming and discipling you.”