But then she started thinking about Andrews’ motto: Seek Knowledge, Affirm Faith, Change the World. Her life for the next four years would revolve around Andrews University. “If I wanted to eventually change the world, I needed to be practicing while I was on campus,” says Tacyana. “If we just sit around stagnant for four years, how do we expect to change the world when we leave? We have to start during our time here.”
And so she joined the new Undergraduate Leadership program her sophomore year. “I honestly started the program thinking I would learn a couple things and get a few skills out of it,” Tacyana says. “In retrospect, it changed my life for the better and it helped draw me closer to God in so many ways. I would never have thought that the leadership program would have impacted my life the way it has.”
In one of her first classes, Tacyana was assigned the book Lead Like Jesus, by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. “That book was so phenomenal to me. It gave me a deeper understanding of my nothingness and His worthiness, and how God can fully equip me through His power.”
That book was only the beginning for Tacyana. “The leadership program is like a refiners’ fire for everyone who takes it seriously,” she says. “The program broke down who I thought I was and recreated me! It makes you realize that leadership has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with God.”
She’d been a worship leader her freshman year, but once she joined the leadership program she took her involvement to the next level, becoming the director of the monthly campus-wide worship service Fusion and singing for weekly chapel. Her junior year, she kept singing for chapel, interned at the Center for Youth Evangelism, and began working at Pioneer Memorial Church as a worship leader. And her senior year, she added to all these things working as a chaplain at Campus Ministries.
Tacyana graduated in 2013 with a BA in Religion and a minor in Public Relations, as well as a certificate in leadership. She recently accepted a job as a worship pastor for the Robbinsville & Princeton Church in the New Jersey Conference, a result made even more amazing given the fact that she is the first female pastor in that conference.
I discovered I exist to serve others through worship and justice. Worship brings us to justice.
She credits her involvement with the leadership program as an influencing factor in getting the job in New Jersey. “I was able to go into those meetings [with the conference] and be confident in who I was, because I learned why I exist through the questions the leadership program asked.” The program asks its students to think and pray about their reason for existence, and “that question takes you a little while to figure out,” Tacyana says. “I discovered I exist to serve others through worship and justice. Worship brings us to justice, and I had the opportunity to recognize that in my journey.”
Her professors have recognized Tacyana’s passion for leadership as well. Dave Ferguson, director of the leadership program, says of Tacyana that “she can usually be found in the midst of the action. She did a wonderful job of pursuing her passions in ministry while exploring leadership capacities.”
Tacyana recommends the leadership program “120%, to every student that comes to Andrews,” she says. “I firmly believe everyone is a leader in their own respect, and the leadership program will challenge you to find out who you are through Christ. Christian leadership gives us a different purpose—our leadership is grounded in service to others; it’s not about our glory. We are working to promote change here on this campus so that when we leave, we will be able to change the world.”
Photo Credit: Holly McCall