When Derek first came to Northwestern, he didn't know what he wanted to do for a career. But he dove in and became very involved in campus ministry, discovering along the way that he has a big heart for missions. After volunteering in South Carolina and Nicaragua on Spring Service Project (SSP) trips and spending a whole summer in Ecuador as a member of Northwestern's Summer of Service (SOS) team, Derek began to envision how a business major could be the right preparation for someone like him, who's industrious and serious about finding a multitude of ways to serve God's kingdom.
Like a lot of freshman, I came into Northwestern College undecided and really unsure about what God wanted me to do for the rest of my life. I began taking general education classes, but nothing stuck out to me after my first semester so I started taking classes in majors that interested me. I took education courses because people kept telling me I would be a great teacher. It didn't seem to fit, so I took marketing courses. I found marketing really interesting and a fun subject to learn about. Business is Northwestern's largest major, and graduates have so many job options, so I declared a business major.
Follow your heart
When I came to Northwestern, I didn't feel I was a good enough athlete to play sports at the college level and I wasn't musically talented enough to play in the band or sing in the choir. But I did have the heart to do short-term missions. My cousin was the leader of an SSP to Spartanburg, South Carolina, and wanted me to join her on the trip. After volunteering at a homeless shelter for a week, I fell so in love with missions that I wanted to be a part of as many as I could. So the next year I went on an SSP to Bluefields, Nicaragua, and loved it so much I returned the following spring as a team leader. I also joined the SOS team, which prepared me to spend the summer as an Incalink intern in Ecuador.
The business professors are intentional about taking a faith-based approach in their teaching. Some start the class period off with devotions and others tie it in with the work we are doing in class. Their overriding goal is to help us become good Christian businessmen and women. But what I appreciate most about the business faculty is how helpful they are. I can come to them with any questions about my school work and they are more than willing to help. And they don't stop there; they also give me advice about my life, my future, and my faith. One of my professors, Ray Gibler, volunteered to lead a mission trip I was on. When I came to him later with questions about which business track I should choose, he was able to use his knowledge of my passions and personality to guide me.
Being involved in missions has been a growing experience for me. It has given me more confidence in myself, and is also a reminder that I can do whatever God wants me to with his help. Leading an SSP team taught me responsibility and prompted me to take the initiative to be the coordinator for the whole Spring Service Project program next year. i am excited to work with the wonderful campus ministry staff and eager to enable people who love missions to experience the wonderful things God has in store for them - like I have.