Veronika's Jubilee story
For Veronika Vazhnik, faith and science are intertwined, but faith came first.
Born and raised in Belarus, Veronika was baptized as an infant in the Russian Orthodox Church but did not become an active member until her last year of high school. At this time, she was also choosing her occupation. It is this process—which still continues, two degrees and four countries later—that she experiences a strong need for Jesus Christ and his guidance.
And Jesus has led Veronika.
“I realized,” she writes, “that I care strongly about God’s creation. I would like to help the world be as sustainable as possible so that the next generations can prosper and multiply. Renewable energy and sustainable agricultural research can be the basis for more resilient communities.”
Now a PhD candidate at Penn State University, Veronika studies BioRenewable systems so that she might serve the God whom “every drop of rain obeys.” BioRenewable Systems is applied science, combining engineering, agriculture and business to help humans make wise decisions in the real world.
But change—especially large-scale change among multiple systems—is difficult and uncertain. Human interaction with the environment is complicated, and some environmental scientists believe that nature would be better off without us. “You often face people whose religion is nature, who think that the planet can do everything on its own,” she says.
This past February, she came to the Jubilee conference—and again to the feet of Jesus Christ—to find vocational guidance. She knew that one way communities implement sustainable practices is through policy, and she wanted to be a part of decision-making. But she was afraid to enter the political realm as “just a student” and “just a scientist.”
When Veronika attended a seminar called “Honoring God in Government: Promoting Justice through Public Service,” she began to envision her involvement in a new way. Could she become part of political committees in her area? Could she find a mentor in her township to learn about how local systems operate? Along with these small, practical steps forward, Veronika received encouragement to continue her work. “I will try to take this advice,” she determined, “and start contributing to my community as a citizen who is present and ready to give feedback.”
It is to all our benefit—and to the glory of our Creator—for this student and scientist to find her voice in the public square.