Isn't it amazing how God can bring us full circle in life much faster than we would typically expect? As a new global health student at the School of Public Health in 2003, I arrived on the Loma Linda University campus as an optimistic idealist with a passion for international refugee communities and a love of foreign languages. At the time, I had minimal knowledge about the Students for International Mission Service office (SIMS). But even before school began, I contacted Martine Polycarpe, the SIMS director at the time, and emphatically told her, "I want to work at SIMS." We met shortly thereafter and thankfully, she offered me a job as a student worker coordinating month-long mission trips for individual student volunteers. Thus began my journey with SIMS.
Working at SIMS was a joy, never a burden. Most days, I looked forward to closing my books after the day's last lecture, walking the length of Nichol Hall from the global health department to the opposite side of the building, pushing open the glass double doors, and walking across the shaded lawn to Cottage 80.
My job at SIMS was meaningful, fulfilling, and exciting, a welcome reprieve from the stressors of school. As a student employee, I worked alongside a vibrant staff of three other public health students. We each had our various responsibilities, from planning monthly weekend trips to Mexico to coordinating short-term group trips, to promoting SIMS at campus events. Whatever our tasks, we performed them willingly. In a sense, SIMS was a testing ground for classroom learning—a place to put academic theory into practice in the field. SIMS was also a place for dreaming. Along with Martine, our fearless leader (and a public health graduate herself) we spent many an evening on the cottage porch as the sun waned in the sky, imagining how we might best serve global communities through SIMS.
Fast-forward seven years. I was privileged to become the SIMS director in 2008 through an unexpected, yet providential turn of events. Leadership of such a dynamic program is simultaneously intimidating and invigorating. Ironically, I have my own student worker staff now representing the schools of Public Health and Science and Technology. The student staff is just as enthusiastic and starry-eyed as I was when I first started working at SIMS. I hope to inspire them to pursue a life of international service in the same way my director inspired me. And who knows, maybe one day, one of my student workers will replace me and propel SIMS and its mission into the future.