Seniors reflect on time at Biola

Seniors Kevin Zimmerman, Ruth Langworthy, Matthew Fichtner and Lauren Wilk discuss what defined their time at Biola and where they are headed next.


Senior Kevin Zimmerman | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES

Heather Leith and Heather Leith

When students talk about Biola, the word “community” is brought up frequently. For these four graduating seniors, community was more than a small part of their experience — it defined their four years at Biola. Here we get a glimpse into the most community-defining elements of their college career.

Senior Kevin Zimmerman | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES


The faithful: Kevin Zimmerman, biblical studies major

The high school version of Kevin Zimmerman would tell you with great confidence that he was going to Georgetown University to study political science in order to become a constitutional lawyer. Seeing as Zimmerman ended up at Biola and is about to step into a position as junior high pastor for the church he grew up in, something radically changed.

“Five years ago was when God really placed on my heart that I was supposed to go into ministry, and he’s really used these past five years, but especially these past four years at Biola to really funnel that from ministry and … that vague possibility to the church and the church specifically,” he said.

Zimmerman, a biblical studies major, is excited to fill this new role at High Desert Church in his hometown of Victorville and, although he never pictured returning home after college, he is starting to see the plan that God has for him.

“I think that God has sent me away, given me a solid biblical foundation, a heart for people, and a heart for his church, to where when I come back, I’m going to be bringing his truth to these people,” he said.

Reflecting back on his time at Biola, Zimmerman appreciates the comfort and support of his fellow students who responded to him while he consistently dealt with physical pain that doctors couldn’t seem to solve.

“It’s a very frustrating thing,” he said, “but I’ve seen the Biola community respond to me in the midst of it. I’ve seen people’s love and their outpouring of God’s grace and their willingness to sit with me or to pray over me. … The community is amazing and it’s influenced me and shown me what it means to truly be the church.”

However, Zimmerman is aware that reestablishing a community at home like the one he has at Biola will be no easy task.

“It’s not going to be like when you come to college and there’s SOS. … I’m going to be the one person trying to find new friends. Even though it’s a familiar area, it’s not home. It’ll be interesting to see how God blesses that and works though that.”

Although he will be fresh out of college, Zimmerman is unwaveringly confident amid the uncertainty of pastoring a ministry of 500 students.

“I’m so excited to be with junior highers because I get to take the complexities of the gospel and bring them down to their level,” he said. “This is the calling that God’s given me.”


Senior Ruth Langworthy | Katie Juranek/THE CHIMES


The multi-talented: Ruth Langworthy, double major in music and nursing

Double major Ruth Langworthy’s time at Biola has been defined within two distinct communities: nursing and music. Langworthy’s community time can look like holding a last-minute study group for an anatomy test or spending a late night in Crowell Hall playing her clarinet with her fellow quartet members.

She arguably took on two of Biola’s hardest majors not knowing how difficult it would be, yet confident that it was a perfect combination of her passions.

“To be a double major you kind of have to be somewhat of a control freak,” Langworthy said. “It’s been really hard because those two majors couldn’t be more different; none of the classes overlap hardly at all.”

During her time at Biola, however, she said that she gradually learned it’s easier to give up control to God.

“I’ve grown a lot since I’ve been here in just having to depend on him for everything. I would not have made it through this double major unless God wanted me to,” Langworthy said.

Sometimes enrolled in 26 units and participating in more than five ensembles at once, her days were marked by early morning classes and late night rehearsals with her peers. The ensembles really taught her the value of each individual in a community.

“Say, the bassoonist misses a quintet rehearsal, there’s only four of us there, and you can’t bounce your part off of his part, so it’s very interactive. Every person is very essential,” Langworthy said.

After graduation, she looks forward to returning to her community at home in Fairbanks, Alaska. She already has a job in an outpatient oncology treatment center, and said she will be promoted to Resident Nurse when she moves back. She hopes to truly utilize her double major by opening a private studio to teach music lessons and rejoining the symphony she was in before college.

Even with these plans in place, she is still looking to God to determine what her purpose is.

“This is still something I’m not that good at yet, but just trusting God for what he’s doing in my life. It’s not always very clear, but time and again he’s come through and shown me, problem after problem, it’s all okay, he’ll work something out,” she said.


Senior Matthew Fichtner | Ashley Jones/THE CHIMES


The pioneer: Matthew Fichtner, double major in computer science and biblical studies

Montana native Matthew Fichtner never expected to end up at Biola, his last-choice school. He originally thought that Southern California had too many people, but when he was visiting, the Lord put on his heart that he was supposed to be at Biola.

“I actually enrolled that day,” he said.

Originally just a biblical studies major, Fichtner added his second major, computer science, when he felt God calling him away from full-time ministry.

“I still have a passion for the local church and I still volunteer and help out, but I just didn’t feel called to be a pastor,” he said. “So I added the computer science major because I’ve always loved computers; I’ve done coding in the past. I’ve always enjoyed it and been passionate for it.”

Fichtner’s drive has taken him far, because after he graduates he will make a drastic change in community as he heads to Redmond, Wash. to intern with Microsoft Corp. as a program manager.

“The list of interns is intimidating because they’re all from Yale [University], MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], you know,” he said. “But at the same time it’s really cool to be the student from Biola. … I’m really hoping to go up there and be a witness and represent Biola and even our computer science department.”

One of the most impacting experiences Fichtner has had within the Biola community was a month-long mission trip to Sri Lanka through the Student Missionary Union, where the team stayed in an orphanage for the duration of the trip.

He says that the Lord opened his eyes to the fact that financially investing in missionaries was just as important as being the missionary.

“It was one reason that I leaned towards changing majors … we’re not all eyes and we’re not all hands, and I’ve learned to appreciate that,” he said.

God’s faithfulness has been a persistent theme for Fichtner as he faces the uncertainty of the future.

“Nine months from now I’m getting married, and I don’t know where I’m going to be working, I don’t know where I’m going to be living, but it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s exhilarating. My entire life up until now, he’s been faithful, and I know He’s going to continue to be faithful, and I have no doubt of that.”


Senior Lauren Wilk | Ashley Jones/THE CHIMES


The wisdom-seeker: Lauren Wilk, art major, photography emphasis

After accepting Christ in high school, Lauren Wilk decided that she wanted her university experience to be more than an accumulation of facts.

“I realized if I’m going to go to college and spend four years learning about something, I want it to be Jesus,” she said.

For Wilk, an art major, one of the most community-defining moments of her Biola education took place during her freshman year when Joanne Jung, professor of biblical studies, took time to speak wisdom into her life while she was going through an extremely rough time. Jung had asked Wilk how she was doing, and when Wilk burst into tears, Jung sat her down and gave her meaningful advice.

“She spoke truth gently, but also firmly … in a way that helped heal me but also helped me stand tall,” said Wilk.

This moment is just one example of the community she has relished at Biola.

Over time, God has taught Wilk what it looks like to earnestly invest in the body of Christ and be poured into in return. She has gained spiritual wisdom through seeking depth and mutual care in her relationships with teachers and friends.

“The more that I care for others and the more that I allow them to care for me by presenting to them my needs, the more I am able to see and experience Jesus,” Wilk said.

She plans to continue practicing community after graduation by living in the Hollenbeck House, a home in Boyle Heights owned by Los Angeles Literature professor Larry Smith. Starting in August, 10 recent Biola graduates will live in the house and follow the various house requirements, some of which include volunteer work, weekly house meetings and cultural outings, and participation in a house church.

Wilk is eager to live out what she has gleaned in her time at Biola, and encourages younger students to seek wisdom and live intentionally during their short time here.

“What you feed yourself often ends up who you become,” she said.

She therefore encourages younger students to “be intentional about what they’re investing in, where they’re investing, and who they’re letting invest in them.”

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