Changed Lives: Meet Our Students
When you give to the Corban Fund, you provide scholarships for many of the students attending Corban University. Your gift not only impacts the lives of these students, but also has a global impact as Corban students and alumni go out into the world to make a difference for Jesus Christ.
Chico Guerra: living a façade to living with authentic faith
“Cheeks, you’ve got to read this.”
Chico Guerra’s best friend Westley Coleman handed him a bible with an open page one day as high school students.
The bible was opened to Matthew 6 when readers are encouraged not to be anxious: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
It made sense to Chico. And it was good news that came at just the right time.
“I was always thinking, ‘I’m just so done with all this,’ then Wes came into my life – Jesus came into my life,” he remembers. Chico remembers that his life was “crumbling. “There was so much bitterness between my friends and life at home was very difficult with my mother warning us that we were going to be homeless.”
Chico met Westley in third grade but at the moment of sharing the gospel with Chico, years later, Westley was extremely different.
“Westley had just gotten back from some church camp with another friend and invited me to go to the beach,” Chico remembers. “The moment I saw him, I realized he was entirely filled with this crazy joy but I didn’t know where he had it. He told me everything he knew about Jesus – and he barely knew anything.”
Chico heard enough to know he wanted to experience the same joy. Though Westley and Chico stayed in touch, they were apart for a few years after Westley moved. Chico was left with peers who put negative peer pressure on him to appear a certain way.
“I had to put on a façade with the wealthy kids,” he remembers. “I put on a façade. I dressed nice, acted cool with what they did, had to be funny. My goal was to do whatever it took to be the popular guy. I guess I was successful in that.”
Chico recalls a consistent pounding on his heart to change.
“I know now it was the holy spirit telling me when things were wrong,” he said.
God was using the “scripture of the day” verses his dad would text him.
“I usually just pushed them aside after reading them, but yeah, I liked them,” he said.
“I went to church with my dad the following Sunday and it was so crazy – here’s me, the guy who used to make fun of people who prayed at flag poles and went to youth group, raising my hands and worshiping.”
The sun was beaming from the small skyview on the ceiling right on Chico.
“It’s pretty cheesy but God’s allowed to be cheesy, right,” he laughs.
Chico decided he needed more evidence to be confident in God. Westley would spend the night often and while the pair admits they should have been doing homework, they would stay up late studying on apologetic websites.
“I grew more and more confident that Jesus is really who He says he is,” he said. “I cut off negative relationships in my life and I began to follow Jesus.”
The interesting thing is Chico did become the popular guy he wanted to be.
“People actually wanted to know what had changed me. I told them, ‘It’s Jesus. You’ve got to know about Him.’ I began to host bible studies even though I knew nothing about hermeneutics. I just wanted people to know about God.”
Let’s fast forward to graduation:
Chico signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Corban after scholarships and financial assistance swooped in giving him the confidence to attend Corban. This was especially exciting as Chico became the first of his family to attend college and was eager to attend bible classes as a new Christian. Westley also signed to play soccer with Corban.
Fast forward another four years:
Chico and Westley are a well-known dynamic duo at Corban. They will both graduate with Business Accounting degrees in May. They have also both had the opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Corban’s Ambex program in Germany and have served in a variety of mission trips and volunteer and leadership roles.
Chico’s mom is a believer in Christ and “God has so obviously been working in every area of my life,” he said. Though Chico’s heart is in missions, he is glad he is graduating with an accounting degree as it will help him began a business or non-profit, or save financially for a life of mission work.
“Corban has been such an amazing place for me to grow, especially having been a younger Christian when I enrolled,” he said. “Having a community where people are truly seeking and desiring God was so new to me. Professors are serious about discipleship, my friends want to help me grow spiritually, my classes taught me to think critically and passionately about scripture – all the details of Corban have made an incredible impact on my life.”
A favorite memory of Chico’s was when he and his guy friends’ hanging out became a confession and prayer night.
“It wasn’t planned. We got together, played some music, talked about memories and out of nowhere people started confessing and reassuring each other that they’re not alone.”
“We were saying, ‘Don’t be afraid. We’re in this together.’”
The best of Corban, in Chico’s opinion, is the community – “but it’s what you make of it,” he clarifies.
“You can come to school here and just go to the bible classes and know the answers. You can use a class or people as your faith but when you truly find a group of people who really seek Jesus and get vulnerable with them, that changes everything. I know that when I fall, because of the people I have in my life, it won’t be hard to get back up.”
Women’s Ministry student Mikaela Hines considered attending Corban University when she graduated from high school, but decided to pursue graphic design at Seattle Pacific University instead. Within her first year of school, she realized that she was neither a city girl, nor a career graphic designer. After taking an 18-month break to reflect and pray on her next move, she felt called to pursue a degree in Christian formation and counseling.
Corban’s solid ministry program and tightknit community initially drew her to the university. But it was an academic scholarship that made it possible for her to transfer to Corban.
“The Corban difference is the atmosphere of kindness here,” she says. “It’s welcoming; like a safe haven. Some people view that as inconsistent with the ‘real world,’ but I think it’s the perfect foundation for students to develop the tools to share our culture of compassion with the world.”
Mikaela was unexpectedly offered the opportunity to serve as a resident advisor (R.A.) during her second year, and she jumped at the prospect. This has given her the perfect opportunity to counsel and mentor the freshman girls in her hall, as well as grow in her own ability to build relationships.
“Here at Corban I am surrounded by people who are encouraging me to grow in my faith. This is especially true of the R.A. leadership team,” she says. “They encourage us to think deeply about ourselves, where we’re at and how we’re impacting others. I’ve gained a lot of perspective when it comes to ministry and living an intentional life.”