Esther Jackson ('09)
Esther Jackson is Chosen as Student Speaker at George Mason University’s College of Science Convocation
Esther Jackson '09 received a B.S. degree in mathematics with a concentration in actuarial science and a music minor from George Mason University in May. She was invited to give an address as the 2013 College of Science Convocation Student Speaker. Esther was a University Scholar, the most distinctive and competitive academic scholarship GMU awards to incoming students. She was a participant in the Undergraduate Research in Computational Mathematics program, an initiative funded by the National Science Foundation. She presented her work on Modern Portfolio Theory of Investment at many university symposia and national conferences, winning first place at the annual Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) intercollegiate symposium. Through George Mason's Center for Outreach in Mathematics Professional Learning and Educational Technology, she collaborated on a Virginia Department of Education Grant to improve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Esther was also a finalist for the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, a program founded by the British Parliament. Esther was president of the Lambda Sigma Honor Society and vice president of the Graduate Chapter of the Association of Women in Mathematics. She was both an Akoma Circle and a University Scholar mentor, and guided summer and fall orientation programs as a Patriot Leader. She embarks on work within the Office of Actuaries at the U.S. Office of Personal Management, while pursuing accreditation from the Society of Actuaries. This summer, Esther begins an accelerated master’s degree program in mathematics at Mason.
Brent Baumgartner (’12)
Brent Baumgartner Wins First Place and $15,000 in Entrepreneurship Competition
As a college freshman, Brent Baumgartner ('12) has won $15,000 in an entrepreneurship competition run by Vonage through OpenGrounds at UVA. He says, “I have ideas for new technologies and start-ups bouncing around my head all the time, so I decided to enter a submission to this contest, which is focused on inventing the future of social messaging.” His business concept, which is called Attendr, is an application that allows people who attend events to share content with one another and take part in discussions about the event. According to Brent, “We want attendees to be participants in an event, not merely observers.”
Former TCS student John Renner, son of math teacher Mrs. Kathy Renner, helped Brent to brainstorm the specifics of the idea. Then he wrote an executive summary and prepared a user interface for the idea. He was named one of seven semifinalists in a field that included several Ph.D. candidates and graduate students. Next, he presented for 10 minutes in front of a panel consisting of the CEO of Vonage, the VP of Technology Research at Vonage, the former VP of AT&T mobility, the VP of Research at UVA, and a Virginia entrepreneur who has founded five multi-million dollar start-ups. After Brent’s presentation, there was a 15-minute Q and A session, during which the panel grilled him on the specifics of his idea and gave him suggestions for its implementation. The next morning, after four hours of debate and deliberation, and three separate re-votes, they awarded him first prize and $15,000.
Since that day, Brent has formally partnered with John Renner and a graduate student at the Darden School of Business to make Attendr a reality. He says they are fortunate to have a strong contact network and mentorship from the Head of Innovation at Vonage, Tzahi Efrati. They are currently developing Attendr and fostering relationships with key industry partners in preparation for a spring 2013 launch. Brent adds, “I hope in the future to use my business success as a starting point to share Christ’s name and all the awesome things God has done in my life. My eventual goal is to use my influence in the field of technology to launch more Christian start-ups and to mentor other start-ups who are doing great Kingdom work as social entrepreneurs.”
Click here to read a Newsplex.com article about Brent and his idea.
By the way, Brent has also been gaining traction with yet another entrepreneurial endeavor: a live local music discovery app called Bocal, which has been named one of 32 semifinalists in a national collegiate competition known as Student Startup Madness.
Gabby Dyer (‘12)
Gabby Dyer Starts for Marshall University Soccer Team as a Freshman
Gabriela “Gabby” Dyer (‘12) was recruited by Marshall University to be an outside midfielder for their soccer team. Gabby explains that playing a new position did not represent a huge change from her club team, for which she had played as an outside forward. “However, the amount of energy and work that outside midfield demands at the collegiate level is much higher than club,” she says. At the beginning of the pre-season she was optimistic about her chances of getting playing time as a freshman. She had come in as a scholarship player and missed the fitness test by a mere 5 seconds—a test which only three people out of 30 had passed. She was surprised to have performed so well, considering the major setback she had experienced in the spring, when she partially tore her medial collateral ligament (MCL) while playing varsity soccer at Trinity. Every day this past summer, she was at the gym working with a trainer and running to get back into shape. Because of her dedication to this regimen, she was able to jump right into the fall season without limitation.
According to Gabby, “Our season started off stronger than it had been in the previous four years, largely because of the new freshmen. We had a strong class that dominated the field and picked up the slack the coach was looking to cut. Going into our conference play, we were .500, meaning we had lost as many games as we had won. Our conference has several highly ranked teams and we began to struggle a little, but we managed to defeat the predicted odds of being the bottom team in the conference.” Gabby’s Marshall team ended the season in the middle of the pack in their conference, and had an unfortunate 1-0 loss after a hard fought match that prevented them from competing in the NCAA tournament. She says, “Next year's team is looking stronger than ever and we all have high hopes for a record-setting season.”
Chaney Mullins ('10)
This summer, Chaney Mullins (’10) interned at the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, writing articles and making speeches, among other things. In July, she spoke at the National High School Mentoring lunch about making a battle plan to counter liberal bias on college campuses. You can view her speech on YouTube. She appeared on CSPAN, introducing the likes of Mary Katharine Ham, who discussed journalism and offered encouragement to young conservatives on becoming activists. In addition, Chaney has recently written an article providing a college girl's perspective on delaying marriage which is entitled “Are We Lying to Ourselves?” You can view her article on the CBLPI website.
Now a “third year” at the University of Virginia, Chaney believes that liberalism at college is seen as normal, but what scares her most is that people do not think twice about it. Chaney goes on to say, “when you offer another way to think, there is a big shock factor for most people.” Even though she is concerned for her generation, she also finds hope that more conservative students will have the courage and patience to explain a new perspective.
As a strong defender of the life of the unborn child, Chaney is active in the pro-life movement. Every week, she goes out in front of an abortion clinic to pray and raise awareness, as well as to counsel women who are going into the clinic. She has been fortunate to have had several conversations with the nurses. Many of them believe that abortion is awful but that they are “helping women.” By conducting these sidewalk counsels, Chaney has helped two women change their minds and keep their children.
Chaney encourages other conservative students to “keep fighting because this battle matters. Get educated, get vocal, get support, and get active, but also learn to speak the truth in love. Follow your passion and embrace it proudly.”
Peter Peckarsky ('06) and Valerie Peckarsky ('11)
Peter Peckarsky (’06) reports: Kara and I are on staff with Campus Outreach Greenville, a non-denominational Christian college ministry through Mitchell Road Presbyterian Church at five campuses in the Greenville, South Carolina area. As a ministry, our 25 staff are committed to the mission of "building laborers on the college campus for the lost world," and our vision is that an increasing number of college students would be equipped to continue to grow spiritually, share their faith, and disciple others, both in college and wherever God calls them for the rest of their lives. We get to be a part of this by leading Bible studies for students from Furman University in addition to my work in the CO Greenville office as the Media Director, supporting the campus staff with videos and other resources.
We have staff members on campus at Clemson, Furman, Wofford, Presbyterian College, and Western Carolina University, where the general spiritual environment is a combination of cultural Christianity and apathy. A lot of the students at these schools have grown up with some kind of experience--positive or negative--at a church or Christian youth groups. In this part of the South, it seems like the default religion when you ask someone is "Christian," but for many college students, this often means nothing more than "My parents go to church occasionally." Our goal is to meet students, initiate spiritual conversations, and give them the opportunity to get involved in Bible studies that will meet their needs for either learning more about what it really means to have a relationship with Christ or how to continue to deepen their personal walk with the Lord.
As part of the work I do in the Campus Outreach office, we also plan and host big events each year (such as conferences, retreats, and summer projects) where students can hear solid biblical teaching and grow spiritually in community others. It was an extra special privilege to have my sister, Valerie, at our summer project in Myrtle Beach this year!
It's really exciting for Kara and me to see students coming to faith and maturing in their faith with a new passion for sharing what they have with others. We know that our influence as two individuals is very limited, but we are trusting God to use the students who have been impacted by the gospel through Campus Outreach to labor for Christ throughout the US and the world, multiplying themselves by discipling others as they have been discipled.
If you want to follow along with us via our email newsletter, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more info, check out the Campus Outreach Greenville website at www.cogreenville.org and the general Campus Outreach website at www.campusoutreach.org.
Gret Glyer ('08) and Nick Freiling ('09)
TCS alumni Gret Glyer (’08) and Nick Freiling (’09) currently attend Grove City College in Pennsylvania. Gret is an entrepreneurship major, while Nick is pursuing a degree in economics, with a heavy dose of political science. Gret, Nick and some fellow students on their hall were discussing the prevalence of abortions in this country, especially since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. As they explored the ways in which someone could have an impact on this situation, they were struck by the fact that pro-life protests do not seem to have a significant effect because the abortion rate has not decreased. Their discussion quickly became focused on the need to raise money, which would translate into making a tangible difference, while dealing with the abortion issue on the personal level, with love and compassion.
With this vision involving fundraising and compassion, in September 2011 they founded One Sonogram, a non-profit that seeks to cover the cost of $85 scans at pro-life pregnancy centers. They created a website, OneSonogram.com, to solicit donations. According to Nick, “Over 40 percent of women who obtain abortions have incomes less than the federal poverty rate." The fact that sonograms are expensive, and many pregnancy centers are unable to afford them, revealed to Gret and Nick a specific area of need where an impact could be made. The power of being able to see her unborn baby, and to realize this is a human being, can be enough for a pregnant woman to decide against abortion. As Nick has said, “At One Sonogram, we sincerely believe that the beauty of unborn life can serve as its own defense…we just want to put that beauty on display! That is why we have made it our goal to provide as many free sonograms as possible. Studies have shown that sonograms are an incredibly powerful experience for women struggling with unplanned pregnancies. Indeed, they are often the very reason why many women come to reject abortion as an option. By providing as many free sonograms as possible, we can save tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives.”
While Nick, who is articulate and visionary, writes content for their website, Gret utilizes his tireless energy and entrepreneurial talents on the marketing end. Gret studied how to market on Facebook and stimulate dialogue, using www.Get10000Fans.com and other resources for ideas. He met with Professor Timothy Sweet, guest lecturer in Entrepreneurship Education, who taught Gret to use WordPress for website development. Seeking advice from his father, who is a tax attorney, Gret successfully registered One Sonogram as a non-profit. When investment banker Bob Christie spoke at Grove City, Gret sought his input about pursuing anchor donors, becoming a 501(c)(3), and developing a business plan, all three of which are in the works. On October 5th, WORLD Magazine published an article about One Sonogram’s remarkable efforts. As of mid-October, Gret reported that One Sonogram had over 1,800 Facebook fans, and was increasing by 100 fans each day. This is after having been up and running for only one month. He points out the viral capability of the website, which has prompted over 1,000 people to be actively discussing this ministry online. There are also plans to use Twitter and YouTube in the future. According to Gret, “We have released $100 T-shirts, $85 of which pays for a sonogram, and the T-shirts are a wonderful way to create awareness through free advertising. We also have a fundraising page on the website. In addition, one can register on the site to receive e-mailed newsletters.”
Nick and Gret plan to continue serving in this ministry after graduation, possibly on a full-time basis. Of course, that will be a function of the support that they continue to receive. According to Mr. Allan Plumley, Assistant to the Office of the Headmaster and Alumni Affairs Coordinator, “We regularly discuss the importance of knowledge, character and service, and these key aspects of life are integral to every student’s experience at Trinity Christian School. It is exciting and encouraging to see the ways in which our alumni continue to serve, have an impact, and live out their Christian faith.”
Shannon Lynch ('07)
Shannon Lynch (’07) recently had her directorial debut with the East Coast premiere of her short film, The Good River (click here to view the trailer). On August 7, 2011, her movie was shown to a packed house at Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax. Among the audience were many fellow TCS alumni.
The film was inspired by the life of Arnold Gragston, an enslaved man who lived in Kentucky in the 1850s. Shannon came across his story while studying slave narratives for her Human Diversity class at Azusa Pacific University, where she is a senior and will graduate in December with a degree in Cinematic Arts. The film’s main character, Jonah, discovers that his friend Ezekiel rows freedom seekers across the Ohio River as part of the Underground Railroad. As Ezekiel and others on the plantation pressure Jonah to join the effort, Jonah is forced to decide between a life of self-preservation and a life of self-sacrifice.
After some twenty drafts, what had begun as Shannon’s search to film a musical led to a finished product consisting of original music, excellent casting and acting, creative and effective set design and dressing, as well as impressive cinematography, lighting and post production editing. Although most of the scenes take place at night, access to the locations was limited. Therefore, filming was done during daylight hours and a day-for-night technique was successfully employed. Thus, sunlight becomes moonlight, and there are beautiful scenes on the water.
After the film was shown, the audience enjoyed an informative Q&A session with the director, followed by a reception in the lobby. DVDs of The Good River are available by contacting Marcia Lynch.