Woman of the week: Keegan Cheleden brings light to Biola and beyond

Freshman Keegan Cheleden serves the Biola community in amazing ways.

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Woman of the week: Keegan Cheleden brings light to Biola and beyond

Freshman Keegan Cheleden refers to her eccentric polka-dotted outfit as her “happy pants.” Her goal at Biola has been to be intentional with people. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES

Freshman Keegan Cheleden refers to her eccentric polka-dotted outfit as her “happy pants.” Her goal at Biola has been to be intentional with people. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES

Freshman Keegan Cheleden refers to her eccentric polka-dotted outfit as her “happy pants.” Her goal at Biola has been to be intentional with people. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES

Freshman Keegan Cheleden refers to her eccentric polka-dotted outfit as her “happy pants.” Her goal at Biola has been to be intentional with people. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES

Nicole Foy, Writer

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Gospel music, cinnamon, Amy Carmichael and making people laugh are only a few items on freshman intercultural studies and journalism major Keegan Cheleden’s list of favorite things.

“I just love wearing my polka dot pants.” Cheleden said. “A lot of people like crazy shirts and crazy dresses, but crazy pants are unexpected.”

Likely to compare her smudged mascara to a panda one moment and seriously discuss the insights of Mother Teresa the next, Cheleden is much deeper than her bubbly personality and endearingly eccentric ways reveal.

Serving as interactions co-coordinator for Missions Conference

As one of the co-coordinators for the Interactions department of Missions Conference, Cheleden is one of the main people responsible for not only the explorations to local mosques and the International House of Drinks, but also for all of the decorations across campus. With the mission to “bring the world to Biola,” Cheleden embraces the formidable scope of her role in order to let God do his work.

“Honestly, [Missions Conference] is hard, but God’s faithfulness comes through,” Cheleden said. “It’s just a conference that the Lord’s hand is in clearly. Everything that is difficult about it just shows him more.”

And although the extensive time commitment of Missions Conference fell during a time of personal struggle for Cheleden, she found it a blessing to have a family of staff and co-workers with whom she could share and pray.

Reminders of God's beauty and glory

“We often associate vulnerability with weakness, but it’s actually one of the biggest strengths you could possibly have, because out of it is the birthplace of creativity and relationship,” Cheleden said.

As she is no stranger to difficulty, beneath Cheleden’s infectious smile and ever-present joy lies a personal decision to allow God to pull her life together after it crumbles to dust.

“He reminds me that I am made from [dust], and somehow he made it good,” Cheleden said. “Because it was always the Lord’s mountain, and he will knock it down whenever he wants to … it was never meant for me to climb.”

Cheleden hopes this understanding of both the brokenness and joy in a Christian’s journey will enhance the impact of the Interactions department on the conference as a whole. She explained that during Missions Conference, students can become overwhelmed with the need and suffering of so many around the world and lose sight of the beauty and glory of God.

“Everything that Interactions does is very based on the world around us and how God created it,” Cheleden said. “And a lot of times we get so wrapped up in brokenness and hurt and hate, and the world around us just seems like it’s broken. And it’s true, it’s hurting and it’s broken, but it’s also good.”

Herein lies Cheleden’s personal goal and desire for Missions Conference.

“I want to bring beauty into focus. I want restoration. I want to show God’s love to other people. Because we are the beloved of God and we forget it,” Cheleden said. “I really want Missions Conference to be a place where people feel like they can breathe and see God face to face."

"I want to be a radiant bulb in the chandelier of his kingdom."

Cheleden’s plans for her future beyond Missions Conference and Biola are still unclear. Although she says she can’t picture herself as either a journalist or a missionary just yet, she hopes to possibly work as a hospital chaplain. However, as she is still only a freshman, Cheleden hopes to continue to grow in the community of friends God has blessed her with.

“The five months that I have been here, I’ve just tried to be really intentional with people and get to know them, because when you are intentional with someone and there for them in their hurt, they will be there for you in your hurt and that’s perfect,” Cheleden said. “If you are intentional about finding community at Biola you will find a safe community to suffer in.”

But at the center of all her dreams, struggles and service, the girl who loves running hugs, spontaneous adventures and dark chocolate Kit-Kats really only wants one thing.

“I want to be a radiant bulb in the chandelier of his kingdom,” Cheleden said.