Every eighteen year old out there is unsure of themselves, heck… everyone is a little unsure. I had no idea what I wanted in my life. I didn’t really like high school that much. I was always striving to be accepted by people whom I had no respect for. I thought that once I went to University all those preconceived “fun ideas” would come to fruition… but the thing is they didn’t. I was struggling to understand how to succeed in University, I didn’t know how to juggle all the course materials and I was stressed out without my family or any support system, basically I felt alone and confused. When I transferred to SSU I was immediately accepted into the fold. Everyone, new students, senior students, staff and professors took the time to introduce themselves and get to know me. I mean, I got a little tired after the first week of saying “Hi, I’m Grace. Nice to meet you. I’m from Ontario. I’m nineteen years old. Etc etc etc.” But that first day I felt more accepted and loved than I had ever felt in my entire life. I thought to myself ‘This is where I belong. Finally.’

– Grace Turner (SSU Alumna, 2012)

“Over the past year spent at SSU, my life has changed completely in the best way possible. SSU has helped to restore my faith and taught me that school can be so much more than just homework. SSU to me is a safe space where people are able to put thoughts into words without being judged for what they say. The professors at SSU are a huge blessing on both my academic and personal life, which would never happen at any other school on the planet. In just one short year of attending school here I have already made so many connections that I know will last a lifetime. I couldn’t ask to be in a better school with better people, because that doesn’t exist.”


– Jeremy Ingram (current SSU student) 

I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into, but I can say with confidence now that this one acceptance letter changed the course of my life completely.

I went there as a 20 year old with zero confidence in my ability to learn, planning on only being there one year for my certificate program… SSU changed me so completely that after receiving my certificate, I enrolled in their BA program and spent the remaining three years studying narrative, myth, hermeneutics, and philosophy. I graduated with a BA. How I managed this is still shocking, I had told myself my entire life that I wasn’t smart or able (I still to this day don’t know how I graduated high school).

… I guess what I’m trying to say is this: people can change for the better. It is our responsibility to create a space for ourselves and others to hear new ideas in a way that deflates the ego without harming our relationship with each other. I was loved so completely through my transition and growth at SSU. I hope I can be that for someone else.

– Brianna Kocka (SSU Alumna, 2011)

“A love letter to St. Stephen, NB; SSU; and the SCV community.

You met me when I was a 19-year-old just recently deported, self-emancipated from the evangelical church, and grieving a newly divorced mom and dad. You embraced me then.

You saw me attempt and successfully attend university at Canada’s smallest liberal arts school with only $1000 in savings and no clue what I was getting myself into. In this totally unfamiliar environment, I wrestled with God, myself, and had trouble managing student loans and getting paperwork completed in a timely way (Sheila Brooks can vouche). You embraced me then.

You travelled alongside me in Europe and Asia. In Thailand, you gave me a private room after a 10-day bout of constipation so that I could recoup and not have to use the squatty potty every 30 minutes at our homestay’s place. You embraced me then (not literally, though, ’cause…well, you know).

After a terrifying brush with death, you offered counselling and support; you wrote songs about it and sang together, celebrating “The Shadows Of Luck” that stayed so close when the 5 of us were twisting and flying in an uncontrolled car. You embraced us then.

You let me share my music; letting me worship in your church and song-share in your community. It was never comfortable for me, because I have crippling stage fright and anxiety. You reminded me of my gifts and stood with me in my fears. You embraced me then.

I have visited you through the years since moving to Vancouver and back east to Halifax. Some visits were delicate for me after I told you I was same-gender attracted; I didn’t know if you would still love me and be my friend, because sometimes relationship end in these situations. To my surprise, our relationship grew stronger. You embraced me then.

A couple of weeks ago you asked me if I would join you in worship and share my gifts with you. You explained that since you had many new Syrian neighbours, you were looking to create an inclusive space for everyone to feel safe and welcomed to worship together. I cannot tell you how honoured I felt to be among the many who are celebrating this diversity. You saw me cry, but these were not tears of sadness; they were the tears of a person who has been fully embraced and fully loved by a humble and intentional community. You embrace people and I don’t know what I would do without you.

Fare forward in grace and peace always.

With gratitude, respect, and love,


– Holli Durost (SSU Alumna, 2011)