Around the world or at home, students share summer memories


Aaron Iles races toward his 100k goal. Photo: Submitted

Camps, jobs and internships, overseas vacations, mission trips and exploring new hobbies. Regardless of how they spent the summers, many BJU students had unique summer adventures. Here, five students share their experiences from this past summer.

A Nice Summer Jog

For most people, running 26.2 miles seems like an impossible feat. But for junior mathematics major Aaron Iles, the 26.2-mile mark was not even half the distance of the ultra-marathon he ran this summer. In 11 hours and 46 minutes, Aaron set both a personal and a course record at the Catskill Mountain Road Relay in Phoenicia, N.Y., running just over 62 miles. Aaron specifically trained for the race over a span of two-and-a-half months.

“I don’t care how fit you are. If you don’t have the mind to do it, [you won’t] be able to,” he said. The day after the race, Aaron was unable to walk and needed assistance even to stand. “Imagine the sorest you’ve ever been and multiply it by ten,” he said. Although this summer’s race proved to be the toughest he has run, Aaron strives to continue training. “I think this is where God gave me the most talent,” he said.

Taking the Stage

Becca Gossage spent the summer away from her home in North Carolina interning at Overshadowed Theatrical Productions in Chicago. As a senior performance studies major, Becca used her talents to assist director Mrs. Reba Hervas, a BJU graduate, in conducting auditions, casting and directing rehearsals. In addition to performing in “The Music Man,” Becca helped to coordinate and direct three children’s drama camps featuring “Into the Woods,” “Pinocchio” and “Les Misérables.”

Overseas Endeavors

Not only did Jamil Jaàr watch tennis player Roger Federer compete at the Olympic Games in London, but the senior dramatic production major also visited seven other European countries. Jamil and his family traveled to Denmark, where they embarked on a cruise that journeyed to Estonia, Germany, Finland, Russia and Sweden. France was the next stop and was also Jamil’s favorite leg of the trip. “It was really refreshing,” Jamil said. There they visited Versailles and toured castles in Paris. From France, Jamil and his family crossed into England, where Jamil visited many friends from the years he lived in the country.

Abigail Troutman, a junior special education major, traveled to Shanghai, China, for seven weeks as a member of the BJU China mission team. She and nine other BJU students taught English to Chinese students. Although Abigail and the team members could not directly speak about Jesus Christ, they were permitted to share the Gospel if students inquired. Abigail said she saw God work in providing opportunities to testify of Christ, most specifically with a student named John. She was able to give him an English-Chinese Bible, and he told her that maybe one day he will believe in Jesus. “God works in different ways in different people and across cultures,” Abigail said.

Senior voice performance major Ethan Simpson participated in a five-week opera program in Italy. Because he knew no Italian upon his arrival in Italy, he took lessons from a native speaker for 80 hours per week. The opera company traveled to different locations in Italy, and the entire production—including stage, lighting and sound—was set up in each location. Ethan performed every night with the opera company, accompanied by a professional orchestra. “It was neat to be able to work alongside an Italian conductor—a real live, in-your-face type of guy,” he said. He also began a new chapter in another relationship: he proposed to his girlfriend, senior voice performance major Ashley King, while in Italy.20120902summeractivities-SFG04