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​Genevieve Parker, welcomed into the church and challenged to lead​

Through the CCO, I have found hope for my work. I know that God cares about my studies. He sees every square inch of my life and redeems it for His purposes.

Genevieve Parker connected to the CCO’s ministry soon after arriving at Carnegie Mellon University to study mechanical engineering. As she finishes her junior year, she is now a student leader of the CCO athlete fellowship group on campus, where she is being mentored by CCO staff members Jonny Cagwin and Kaleigh Ritter. She also serves Carnegie Mellon as a Community Adviser in her residence hall and is an active participant in the worshiping community of Church of the Ascension. 

To lead is to serve. That’s what Christ taught, and that’s what I’ve learned from CCO staff members Jonny and Kaleigh. Watching them constantly pour into students’ lives and look for ways to serve the campus community has helped me learn what leadership looks like. They serve because they care about the people here. They are leading us to become the leaders of our own future communities. 

Jonny and Kaleigh guide students to Jesus. Whenever I approach Kaleigh with a problem, I already know what she’ll say: “Have you prayed about it yet?” Jonny challenges me to keep looking for ways to impact more students every week. While both of them challenge me constantly, they also encourage me constantly.  

Because of Kaleigh’s encouragement, I recently accepted a higher-level leadership role for next year in Carnegie Mellon’s residence halls. I had a lot of insecurities about my abilities as a leader and a decision-maker, and I discouraged myself from applying by believing these insecurities. Thankfully, I talked to Kaleigh about the position. She addressed every one of my worries by pointing out a ​​specific instance in which I had proved to be strong in each area I was insecure about.

I’ve been a student leader in the ministry for two years. I’ve found a community of believers that supports me, and thanks to Jonny, I’ve found a church home with the most encouraging people. It was this feeling of belonging and family that kept me coming back to Church of the Ascension. Now I am involved in helping with scripture reading and communion during services, and I’ve attended a few classes and retreats. I was even “adopted” by a family in the congregation.

The CCO has helped me figure out that I can serve God as an engineer.  I knew that every kind of work was meaningful to God, and I knew I was passionate about engineering. Even so, I had not considered that the field of engineering had its own story of brokenness and redemption. The beauty of God’s design in creation encourages me, and the realities of the brokenness in engineering remind me of our need for a Savior. 

God is the perfect engineer. Everything He makes is designed well to do its job. Yet when I look at the Challenger disaster or the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse, I am hit with the disturbing truth that sin has soiled God’s design. 

Praise God that the story doesn’t end there! I can look at how far engineering has come, how much we have progressed in areas of safety precaution, efficiency, and technology, and I can see God at work. Jesus has redeemed my career and will one day restore it to perfection.  
Through the CCO, I have found hope for my work. I know that God cares about my studies and even encourages me to lead in this field. He sees every square inch of my life and redeems it for His purposes. 

As I prepare to enter into work within the Department of Defense, an area that has a critical impact on many lives, I will rely on God’s redemption to help me do my work well.