Graduating seniors share experiences from Biola

Two December graduates share their experiences at Biola and post-graduation plans.


Jessica Lindner

Graduating senior, Arek O’Connell is already a full time associate youth pastor. He says that the Biola community has helped to pull him through the struggles in his life. | Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES

Tonika Reed, Writer

Correction:This article originally listed Jim Mohler as Jim Moore and incorrectly said he died two years ago instead of one. The Chimes regrets this error.

Johannah Sorensen

Former Business Major gone Journalism and graduating senior, Johannah Sorensen shares about her Biola Journey and advises students to surround themselves with “people who love the Lord.” | Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES

Johannah Sorensen started out as a business major in the fall of 2008, yet felt that the Lord was leading her in a different direction. After her freshman year at Biola, Sorensen switched her major to journalism with a public relations emphasis and found the change rewarding.

“I learned a lot about myself and how I need to allow God to use my strengths,” Sorensen said.

Her plans after graduation are to go back to her home in Fresno, Calif., to work for her parents while looking for a public relations related job. In August she will be marrying her high school sweetheart.

Interning at a hospital this past summer influenced her desire to one day work in the avenues of donor relations for a nonprofit or event planning. Sorensen learned that it is easy to just fade into the Christian college routine.

“I also learned that it is not always easy to put yourself out there to get involved, but when you do you are able to give back to the community here at Biola and it is very rewarding,” Sorensen said.

Two of Sorensen’s favorite classes were Apologetics and the PR Practicum, a journalism class that acts as its own PR agency on Biola’s campus. Sorensen has been the agency director of 6th Street PR for two semesters.

“It has been great to see it grow,” she said.

Sorensen said that being at Biola has grounded her faith in the Lord. Sorensen was able to travel with her church to Honduras for the last two summers, where they have built up Promise Home Orphanage and held vacation Bible schools for children in the community.

As the oldest children of her family with two younger siblings, she feels that she had an influence on her sister who now attends school at Biola.

Sorensen’s word of advice to current students is all about standing firm in faith and seizing opportunity.

“Get involved and make sure you surround yourself with people who love the Lord,” Sorensen said. “Persevere through the hard times and do the best you possibly can as a representative for Christ.”

Arek O’Connell

Graduating senior, Arek O’Connell is already a full time associate youth pastor. He says that the Biola community has helped to pull him through the struggles in his life. | Jessica Lindner/THE CHIMES

Arek O’Connell loves working with high school students as an associate youth pastor at his full-time job at Emmanuel Reform Church in Paramount, California. Arek O’Connell originally chose Biola mostly because of his major in Christian Education.Through his experience at Biola, O’Connell transformed into who he is today.

“Just because this is a Christian school doesn’t mean that your personal responsibility to grow in your faith is taken away,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell struggled a lot freshman year when his father was severely stabbed and never recovered from surgery. Swiftly and boldly the Biola community embraced O’Connell. Offered free counseling sessions and meeting with spiritual leaders and other important people O’Connell was easily able to grieve, and involve himself in some much needed soul care.

During O’Connell’s time at Biola, he has been active in the California School Project ministry, Biola Athletic Ministries and he was the student manager of Common Grounds for two years. O’Connell’s favorite class was Biblical Interpretation and Spiritual Formation with professor Jim Mohler.

“He was the perfect example of what he taught,” O’Connell said.

Jim Mohler died one year ago of an incurable brain tumor. O’Connell said that Mohler loved his students and was obedient to the service of the Lord. Just months before his death, already severely ill, he still came to wash his students’ feet during the week they were studying the topic of service. O’Connell described that Moore believed that our duty as Christians comes before anything else, against all odds.

O’Connell says that without the Biola community he would not have been able to be who he is today.

“I don’t think I could have gone through things with my dad’s death without the Biola community. There would have been no way for me to help my family through that. Living in Christian community has been the biggest thing I’ve learned about here,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell’s advises students to take full advantage of each day here and to work hard at beating sin.

“I assumed all of my sin was going to be fixed when I came here, but it takes a lot of personal motivation to overcome your sin,” O’Connell said. “If you are coming to Biola for a Christian education, be prepared to apply what you learn to you life, rather than keeping it all in as head knowledge.”

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