For Brenda Garmendia, coming to study at Andrews was a quick and easy decision. After taking a year off after high school, Brenda knew that she wanted to leave her native Venezuela to study English in the United States. She tried getting into different programs but things weren't working out, so Brenda decided to give Andrews a call to see if they had a program for international students. She picked up the telephone on a Friday, and found out about Andrews’ English language courses and Action America, an intensive English language summer program. “I have to start now,” she told her father, and by the following Monday, Brenda was on a plane headed to Berrien Springs, Mich.
When Brenda arrived on campus, she didn’t speak any English and found herself immersed in a completely different culture, having to strike out on her own for the first time. But her cheerful and outgoing personality and relationship with Jesus helped her make the adjustment.
“I’d never traveled alone before,” Brenda explains. “I flew here alone, did registration alone, but Jesus was with me every time. He got me up every morning. I could feel that Jesus was here, helping me in this experience. He had led me to come to Andrews.”
But, the transition from her home in Venezuela to being a student at Andrews was not without personal challenge. It became an opportunity for her to grow and become more personally responsible for her spiritual life. “Probably the most difficult part of the move was that I had to be on my own with my relationship with God,” she notes. “My mom wasn’t there asking me, ‘Did you read your devotion today?’ I had to make my own decisions.”
Brenda spent her first year taking English as a Second Language courses and working on her generals. She also began working on a Spanish studies major because she didn’t have to know English to enroll in classes, and she wanted to start working towards a degree.
Now, Brenda is a sophomore double major in Spanish studies and music performance and voice with plans to go on for a master’s degree in youth ministry. She hopes to turn her passion for singing into a ministry that teaches teens about the relevant and personal nature of Jesus through music, art, and drama. “With my ministry, I want teens to feel like they can talk frankly with Jesus, to be themselves with Him,” she explains. “I want them to know that He is their best friend.”
And how does Brenda feel about Andrews now? “I love Andrews – It’s my home.”