Ashley Elizabeth Ramos with students in Palau. Photo courtesy of Ashley Elizabeth Ramos

December 28, 2021

Student Missions: A focus on faith integration

The Student Missions program at Andrews University uniquely affirms the Andrews mission to “Seek Knowledge. Affirm Faith. Change the World.”

Individuals who choose to participate as a student missionary have the opportunity to explore the globe, learn new things and change the lives of others.

Teela Ruehle, director of Student Missions & Service Projects, expresses, “The world would be a different place if each person started off their day asking ‘God, who can I serve today?’ We are surrounded by a world of needs and each of us can make a difference by small acts of kindness.” She adds, “We often think that we have to be a huge world-changer with a massive impact, but the truth is, most world-changers are the people who are out there serving in any way they can, allowing God to use them however they are called.”

Garett Lee with a student in Majuro. Photo courtesy of Garett Lee
Garett Lee with a student in Majuro. Photo courtesy of Garett Lee

This year, although additional protocols are in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are currently 28 students serving both around the world—in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, Costa Rica, South Korea, Honduras, Lebanon, Canada—and more locally, in Michigan. They have found many ways to serve, with roles ranging from student engineers to taskforce deans, gymnastics coaches, architects, teachers, orphanage volunteers, graphic designers, and more.

Ashley Elizabeth Ramos, a junior Health Sciences and pre-PT major with a minor in Spanish, knew very early on that she wanted to take a year off to either study abroad or do mission work. She found friends at Andrews who were enthusiastic about student missions and made the choice to go abroad the same year as they, leading to her present position as a kindergarten teacher on the island of Palau.

“I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to serve,” Ashley says, explaining that her thought process was. “If I’m going to take a year off, why not use it to help people and experience a new culture?” During her time of service, she hopes to cultivate patience with herself and others, and to “grow strong bonds with the missionaries and people on the island.”

Another student, Garett Lee, a junior Architecture major, currently serves as a grades 7–12 math teacher on the island of Majuro in the Marshall Islands. Like Ashley, he knew he wanted to take a year off from school to travel, and eventually decided to pursue missionary work.

Although his job requires a challenging juggle between grading, teaching and planning, Garett has been rewarded in seeing his students understand and learn. He notes, “I want to be able to find a way to make a lasting impact on the kids. I hope that, at the end of the year, I can see how this experience has changed me for the better.”

Both Ashley and Garett encourage others to take the leap outside their comfort zone and participate in a student missions year. Ashley explains, “It’s truly an experience like no other because you get to experience a whole new place, a new purpose, new people, and a growing you.… It’ll be a year worth your time, effort and heart work.”


Isabella Koh, University Communication student writer, Andrews University