CCU is looking to establish a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, with Student Advocate and Academic Advisor Jonathan Garrett as its coordinator.

“I was sitting and talking with Tom Thatcher one day eating lunch, and we were discussing diversity and inclusion issues in CCU, and he asked me if I was interested in being a diversity and inclusion coordinator because of all the work he’s seen me do at Solidarity over the last two years,” explained Garrett.

The task force currently consists of six faculty members: Student Services Administrative Coordinator Lydia Darlington, Student Involvement Coordinator Roger Bishop, School of Business Department Chair Dave Farris, Assistant Professor Laura Pressley, Urban Scholars Program Coordinator Carole Strecker, and First-Year Experience Coordinator Karin Admiraal.

“The goal is overall to actually make the campus look more like the Gospel because we have a lot of division here at CCU, unfortunately,” continued Garrett.

On the topic of international students, Garrett expressed his understanding that “international students are not only coming to this school, but they’re coming to a school in a culture that is not their own.”

“It’s one thing to say, ‘You’ve got classes and got to do homework,’ and it’s another thing to say, ‘Who helps me understand the culture?’” said Garrett. “One of the international students that came for a semester in grad school, he just needed help catching a bus to go grocery shopping.”

CCU is currently making improvements to ensure that the transition to the United States and college life is easier for international students.

Darlington, along with Registrar Amanda Derico and Associate Registrar Judy Pratt, recently went through a foreign student advising training led by Ron Cushing, director of international services at University of Cincinnati.

“The role I’d like to be in is one that can just kind of advise students not just on an academic level or for immigration reasons, but just to orient them to America and being at a university in America,” said Darlington.

“It’s so important to have somebody teach you those things, so I’d like to get into that.”




CCU’s mission statement is to develop selfless, well-rounded leaders who follow Christ and positively impact their community, country, and world. This includes training and preparing international leaders to impact their side of the world with the Gospel.

CCU has graduated more than 50 international students in the last 15 years, with 17 foreign students currently attending CCU, according to Registrar Amanda Derico.

Some international students reflected on their CCU experience. “At first it was difficult to get the studying part right,” said Junior Simon Saleem, a psychology major from Pakistan.

“The education system in America is different from how it is in Pakistan. It took me a while before I got used to how things are done here,” he added.

“My goals in the future are to get further equipped with psychological knowledge and expand my horizons on what God wants me to do with the skills I have acquired,” Saleem continued.

“After I am done with my studies I plan on going back to Pakistan to proclaim the word where it is urgently needed.”

International students at CCU include graduate students as well.

“1994 was the time I started praying to be able to come here at CCU. It took me like 22 years of praying and I almost gave up,” said Graduate Student Victor Dela Serna, who is from the Philippines and is pursuing an M.A. in Leadership Studies. The whole process for Serna to apply to CCU took over a year.

“When I first applied, I sent everything. Then after a couple of weeks, the person I was speaking with was laid off. So, I applied again and spoke to this person again, and then after like a month, the person is laid off again. So, it took me like four different batches of people before I finally set everything,” he said.

One of CCU’s international alums is Taweepong Yinthanm from Thailand. Yinthanm graduated from CCU in 2016 with a master’s in Biblical Studies and is currently the pastor of the Thai Outreach Hollywood Church in Los Angeles.

“My goals are having a happy family and life by serving God,” said Yinthanm. “And my project for the future is building a library in my hometown which will be one of the most important landmarks in South East Asia and disciple people to Christ until the end of my life.”

Yinthanm attributed his ease of assimilating to the culture in the USA to his friends and professors at CCU.

“Professors and officers were very kind and they helped me to get through so many difficult things during I was studying at CCU.”

Undergraduate Admissions Counselor Zach Muller also offered another aspect of CCU’s involvement with international students.

“With the recent expansions of our athletic department, our coaches have aided in recruiting some of our current international students,” said Undergraduate Admissions Counselor Zach Muller.

“CCU as an institution strives to be as diverse as the Church is, and international students are part of what help CCU realize this endeavor,” he added.



Hwa hwa and hello! My name is Rachel Fish, and I am an international student from Myanmar (Burma). My major is Business Management and I am a junior.


Coming to CCU, I was given the opportunity to learn a lot about the American culture and traditions through friends, professors, and events.
I remember the first international student dinner and get-together I went to hosted by former professor Steve Skaggs, which was held to welcome international students and give them an opportunity to connect with each other.

And it was at these events where my eyes would be opened to see how diverse CCU actually was and connect with people who were so different yet so similar to me. It gave me an opportunity to say hi to a familiar face and learn the amazing stories of these people.

There was also a car for international students, donated by a ministry called Valley of Baca, to get around easier, whether for grocery shopping or exploring the new city.
CCU does not currently have an international liaison, and international students are starting to become less connected with each other.

The international car is long gone, international dinners are no longer a thing, and I no longer know all the cool places where CCU international students are from.

“I love CCU and we claim to have a big focus on diversity and what not, but I think it’s too much on words and it’s not much on action,” said Senior Benji Reano Cuellar, originally from Colombia.

“If they were going to claim to be as diverse-focused, they should make a bigger effort to actually integrate the diverse groups on campus, with each other and with other people,” he added.

“I kind of had to do a lot of that myself. I get along very well with the international students, but it would have been great if I met them before.”

However, the recent addition of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force serves as a glimmer of hope of CCU’s efforts towards involving international students.
(see lead story in today’s issue)


Personally, I would have never been able to survive college if it were not for the people I have met during my time in the States. It sounds cliché, but it is true.

Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving: those were usually the seasons my homesickness would hit hard.

People would talk of seeing their families, going on trips with relatives, giving and receiving gifts from their loved ones; everything a student 8000 miles away from her family could not do.

I hope people realize that during those times, every time a person would offer an invitation to their house for dinner or a place to stay or even just a small lunch date, they were providing me not only company but a home, a friend, a family.

It is very meaningful to international students when people reach out to them. You are making your fellow students feel as much at home in the USA as you do.

So thank you for everything. Thank you for being home.



As CCU enters finals week, some students are experiencing more than just final exams. With the end of the year comes final Family services, final classes with their favorite teachers, and final days with close friends.

Graduating seniors now reach a unique crossroads.

It is a time to look back on the place that they have come from, all the things they learned, the people they have met, the experiences they have had. On the other hand, it is a time to look forward to new jobs, new locations, and new experiences.

It can be both a time of pure excitement and a time of heavy-heartedness.

“I’m definitely going to miss Family, and the community that I’ve built in my life here,” said Senior Jake Christie. “In a weird way, I’m going to miss going to school, too.”

Senior Eric Craft holds similar feelings while looking forward to his job lined up after graduation.

“After school, I am going to Southwest Church in Springboro, Ohio to be a pastor for their junior high kids,” Craft explained. “That being said, it’s hard to leave the community I’ve built here.”

Senior Sarah Stacy has already used her business management degree to obtain a full-time job as a recruiter at Living Room, a business research firm, and admits that she’ll miss “the professors and her friends” and “being an athlete.”

Among members of faculty leaving this year are Dr. Johnny Pressley, professor of Theology, and Professor Shawnee Fleenor, professor of English, who are both relocating.

Though these transitions are both difficult and exciting, and many, this writer included, are watching friends leave, the takeaway from these seniors’ experiences is for all students to take a look around them and enjoy the time at CCU, because that final week on campus will be here before you know it.



Instead of releasing your exam stress through Twitter memes, get ready for the biannual finals week events.

SAB has spent the past month planning three events to help students relax during finals week, according to Junior Monika Schilling, SAB member.

Kicking off the week with an event that has been done for several previous exam weeks, the Student Union will host Late Night Breakfast & Bingo starting at 10 p.m. on Monday.

Bingo prizes are currently displayed in the Student Union, including dorm essentials like air fresheners and laundry baskets, movies, kites, and games, and the top prize, a 43” TV.

“The prizes are pretty cool, and who doesn’t love Late Night Breakfast? My friends and I always make it a point to go,” said Senior Stephanie Linn.

Next is Taco Tuesday, a tacos and open gym event beginning at 9 p.m. on May 9. Students are invited to hang out, eat tacos, and play basketball or dodgeball with friends.

To wrap up this year’s SAB events, Cookies & Crafts begins at 8 p.m. in the Eagle’s Nest on Wednesday.

“It’s a great way to hang out with friends and take a nice break from studying for exams. Even if you don’t think you’ll like it, we do our best to make sure there’s something for everyone to enjoy,” Schilling said.

If you just can’t wait for next week’s events, tonight at 7:30 p.m. Senior Iain Skaggs is presenting an original play, Arthur Sable’s Crime, in Foster Hall. Tickets are free, and there’s still time to RSVP by emailing iain.skaggs@ccuniversity.edu.



After nearly three decades of teaching at CCU, Dr. Johnny Pressley, professor of Theology, will depart from the university at the end of this semester to relocate and begin a new ministry.

Pressley is best known on campus for teaching the Basic Biblical Doctrines and Christian Ethics classes that all undergraduate students must take, as well as the 14 other graduate courses he teaches.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Ministry from Roanoke Bible College in Elizabeth City, North Carolina in 1975, before going to receive his Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey and Master of Divinity from Cincinnati Christian Seminary by 1979.

Finally, he achieved his Doctorate in Philosophy from Westminster Theological Seminary in Glenside, Pennsylvania in 1989. Though he has taught at CCU for 27 years, in total he has 34 years under his belt as a full time professor, starting at Roanoke Bible College, now known as Mid-Atlantic Christian University. During his tenure, Pressley has also served as a Theology Department chair and the Dean of the Graduate School. He’s had a long history of preaching at churches, conferences, and retreats across 23 states and 15 countries. In addition, he’s an avid runner, having completed 19 marathons and a plethora of shorter races.

Having spent so many years at CCU, Pressley has quite a few memories to take with him, but one that stands out among the others is particularly humorous.

“At one of the midnight breakfast talent shows, I was asked to get up on stage and sing a song,” he explained. “So I got up and sang an ‘N Sync song for the students. I’ll never forget that.”

Though some rumors were that he was retiring, Pressley made it clear that he is really starting a new journey as the senior minister at the First Church of Christ in Washington, North Carolina.

It is here that he will spend his final working years, while also making occasional trips to speak at various locations. He indicated that these trips may also bring him back to Cincinnati on occasion.

“This is definitely a combination of ‘goodbye’ and ‘who knows when,’” he said.

In his last few weeks, he leaves CCU with one final sentiment.

“I hope that my legacy is that I taught Bible doctrine as solid and simply as I could,” he said. “My first class I taught was Basic Biblical Doctrine as a graduate student, and it will be the last class I teach. This seems like an appropriate beginning and ending for me.”



Recently, two groups on campus have taken up the task of creating a culture of renewal at CCU.

While they are two separate entities, the CCU Go Green Initiative (GGI) and the new garden built by the England service learning team, are linked by this common goal.

GGI, led by Freshman Zoe Smith, is a student organization working to improve CCU’s education, attitude, and the accessibility to environmentally-friendly choices.

Beginning just one month ago, GGI has already sparked changes around campus.

GGI’s first action was to post signs on paper towel dispensers around campus reminding not to waste paper. Smith said they also plan to get new recycling bins and arrange events to educate students about recycling and sustainable living.

Professor Dave Farris, department chair for the School of Business, is faculty advisor to the Go Green Initiative. Farris has a long-held passion for renewing the things (and people) who are typically deemed “disposable.”

Farris and the 2017 England service learning team he led were inspired after working in a garden in front of a prison visitor’s center in Birmingham, England. The garden was constructed by Dr. Sam Ewell, a missionary working with Christian Missionary Fellowship.

On Community Service Day, a group of about 40 faculty, staff, and students worked together to build a similar garden at CCU, beside Parking Lot 2.

Like the garden in Birmingham, nearly all the materials used would have been thrown away. Many of these materials were collected on campus.

For one year, the garden will lie unplanted while the compost elements break down, after which Farris will plant flowers.

“This garden serves two purposes,” Farris wrote in a post on his blog, daf words. “The first is to finally make that connection between something that we learned in Birmingham and brought home with us. The second is to give ourselves a constant reminder of what it looks like to reincorporate people and things back into the world.”

Smith has agreed to construct a found-object art installation which will act as both a sign and a unique scarecrow for the garden.

“From start to finish, it’s a really hope-filled thing for me,” said Farris.

Farris, Smith, and GGI have many more ideas to build a culture of renewal at CCU.

“We’re just starting something. We’re really hoping this will be a long-term thing that sticks around at CCU and the community, to engage God’s creation,” said Smith.