Current Status: Alumni
Graduation Year: 2010
Even before he graduated from Hope International University (HIU), Trevor Smith knew his education was paying off. The 22-year-old received his Bachelor's degree in Biblical Studies in May 2010, but he began preaching at Lake Elsinore First Christian Church (LEFCC) while he was still a student.
"It is great to take preaching classes and ministry classes at Hope, but what is even better is that Hope provides opportunities for students to practice what they are learning in the class room," Smith said. "I was able to directly take material I learned in the classroom and share what was appropriate for the context with the congregation."
Every Sunday, Smith preaches in front of the small congregation at LEFCC, where he enjoys being able to challenge people with Scripture and study the Bible together. When asked what he loves the most about his job, Smith mentioned community first.
"I love that people get to share in one another's burdens, suffering, and pray for one another," he said. "I love the opportunity to open people's eyes more to the beauty of God's grace and the incomprehensibility of God's unconditional love. I love to be challenged by the Scriptures and challenge others with what the text is saying."
As a student at HIU, Smith was determined to do more than simply have faith. To that end, he and a handful of other students started an organization called Povertees, which raises awareness of homelessness. Povertees sews decorated pockets onto t-shirts, then sells them, and puts the money toward buying food and clothing for the homeless. Members take the items to downtown Los Angeles and spend time interacting with the homeless people there.
"Our Hope and goal was to not treat the homeless as an object to be 'won over' or 'saved' but to be Jesus to them, by helping restore their humanity," said Smith.
In addition to Povertees, Smith's experiences at HIU ranged from playing Ultimate Frisbee, dodgeball, and flag football to making lifelong friends and meeting his fiancé. However, he also had the chance to build his faith and make it his own, something he feels HIU encourages their students to do.
"The faculty are not interested in giving simple answers," Smith said. "They are devoted to being there for students and love to help them process the material being taught in class. They are interested in helping students think critically about faith, what it means to live for the Kingdom, and how to live it out."
Equipped with a supportive faculty and a community that affords students the chance to grow and develop as individuals, Smith believes HIU is worthy of prospective students' consideration.
"I'm sure you are looking at other schools," Smith said, "but let me assure you that Hope will be the school you will be thankful you decided to attend."
Pointing out that it was at HIU that he discovered his passion for Biblical study and preaching, Smith also noted that he learned creativity and critical thinking. Drawing on his own time at the University, he explained the profoundly positive affect HIU can have on a student.
"My education at HIU didn't just prepare for short term goals," he said, "but provided me with tools that I will be using for the rest of my life."
"My education at HIU didn't just prepare for short term goals, but provided me with tools that I will be using for the rest of my life."