Bold Moves from an Issachar Apprentice’s first year in College
No doubt about it: it was time for a bold move.
It was the beginning of Issachar Apprentice Selah Gelinas’ spring semester of her freshman year of college, and the first semester hadn’t gone as planned. Something needed to change.
In being selected for the Issachar program, Selah had already shown her potential as a Christian leader in the urban context. But now, a semester into the program, the challenges were mounting.
Part of the weekly commitment for apprentices is to attend a study night where academic support is available. At the first study night of the new semester, Fabian Armenta, academic success coordinator at Issachar, slid a sheet of paper in front of each of the apprentices. It had two simple questions on it:
Why are you doing this?
Who are you doing this for?
Selah immediately thought of her five younger siblings at home, all looking to her, the first Gelinas to leave the nest and go to college. “They mean so much to me,” she said. “I want to be there for them. I want to be that example.” And then she thought of the call on her own life that led her to choose a major in human services at Metro State University. She has a strong sense of God calling her to work at the intersection of the nonprofit world and criminal justice.
Although she knew she was doing it out of a sense of calling, that didn’t make it easy. As with many college freshmen, the first semester of college had proven more demanding than Selah had expected. On top of a regular college class load, Issachar Apprentices also spend more than 10-hours per week volunteering in the community and attending weekly Issachar meetings.
“I was getting overwhelmed,” she said, “I didn’t know who I was and how much I can handle. That was one of the struggles: not understanding what I needed.”
When grades came out at the end of the first semester, Selah was disappointed. Furthermore, in order for her to remain involved in the Issachar program, she was placed on academic probation.
Time to be bold: For those five younger siblings. For God. For Selah.
Something switched in Selah as the second semester started. She didn’t see the probation as punishment; rather, it was exactly the structure she needed in order to succeed. As part of the probation, Selah increased the frequency of her meetings with Fabian and with her tutor, Lauri Briscoe.
“Once I finally realized I need that help, I was all for it. I was calling my tutor all the time and meeting with Fabian all the time,” she said.
And for Selah, Lauri’s steady, consistent presence as a tutor made a world of difference.
“She would just come and sit with me. That’s all I really need to actually focus and maybe run some ideas by her,” Selah said. “Just having someone sitting with me changes everything.”
One of the five fingerprints of the Issachar program is professionalism, and the program cultivates this value through supporting apprentices as they complete their college degrees. The idea is that a college degree can be a useful tool in expanding a leader’s influence and opening opportunities. After working through her first year of college, Selah now sees even more importance to academic success.
“Your grades reflect on your work ethic and how you’re going to do with working in general,” she said.
Now as a sophomore at MSU and in her second year as an Issachar Apprentice, Selah is cruising. Not only have her grades and study habits improved, she has a different perspective about how she approaches her learning.
“I always have to change my thinking and check myself to make sure I’m going to class for the right reasons. I’m going to class because God told me to,” she said. “Okay, God needs me here. What can I learn today?”
And that is a bold question.