Hi! My name is Katy and I have attended Immanuel for about 2 years. I grew up in ‘The Sooner State’ – Oklahoma, went to the University of Oklahoma – Go SOONERS! – where I met my husband, Chip, when we were both members of the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band. After graduating, I married and moved to Louisville, KY, where Chip was living and attending seminary. Two years later we moved to Chicago and we currently reside in Hyde Park with our dog, Kalbi. We ended up here because my husband is attending graduate school at the University of Chicago (you may remember reading his vocation vignette about studying ancient languages J).

Like everyone, I have many vocations: wife, daughter, sister, and friend. At the moment my paid vocation is as an International Student Adviser at UofC. As many of you may know, I have a degree in Elementary Education, so the fact that I am in this present vocation might seem out of place. Not long after we moved to Chicago the Lord made it clear to me that although I had been teaching for the previous 2 years it was time to consider different employment. With that in mind, I applied to work as a temporary employee at the University and my first assignment was in the Office of International Affairs. Through this assignment I came to realize that God had blessed me with many gifts that could be of use in this office for longer than my temporary assignment. Fortunately, the office posted a full-time adviser position while I was there and I was offered the job. That was nearly three years ago. Some days I struggle with the reality that I am not an elementary teacher to which I felt called for many years, but continue to have faith that in the not so distant future the Lord will make a way for me to use the training that I have received in some way or another.

The title – International Student Adviser – seems to be used to describe a variety of jobs at universities throughout the country. At the University of Chicago, in a nutshell, it means that I advise international students with student visas regarding all aspects of their immigration – from getting their visas in their home country to working in the U.S. after they graduate and everything in between. If it has to do with their immigration, and they are one of my advisees, then they come to me for assistance. Of course, this does not exclude students from coming to me to ask for assistance with any number of issues, but the ones that I am most apt to be able to assist with are in regard to their immigration.

We have approximately 2800 international students (roughly 18% of the student body) representing over 100 countries enrolled on-campus. If you have ever spent much time in Hyde Park, this diversity is something that immediately stands out. There are 4 student advisers in our office, so we each advise about 700 students. Due to the large numbers, it is extremely difficult to get to know the students on much of a personal level. This could be looked upon as a negative, but I like to think of it as an opportunity to touch more people.

My job is service-oriented at its core. Generally speaking, I do not see or hear from a student until they have a question or concern related to their immigration. At times this can get overwhelming, since everyone that contacts me needs something, and often times they needed it yesterday due to lack of planning. But instead of getting frustrated or angered by their poor planning, I strive to provide them excellent service to make their lives here in a foreign country away from their families a little easier. Not to mention the fact that their primary focus here in the U.S. is to attend school and the easier that I can make their immigration issues, hopefully the more they can focus on school. As the Lord shows grace to us daily, it seems the least I can do is show grace to the students that I serve.

Leviticus 19:33-34 commands: “When a stranger (read: resident alien) resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”

Although, my students normally seek me out when they are in need of something, they are extremely grateful for that service. No other group with which I have worked is as appreciative as the international students I have served for the last three years: they regularly show their appreciation, even if they are not always being told what they would like to hear.

Many times the things I do for them take me very little time, but mean a great deal to them. For example, I have helped countless individuals be able to bring a dependent (spouse or child) to the U.S. to stay with them for the duration of their studies or I have aided students in obtaining U.S. work authorization to accept a job offer. Because of their appreciation, it is very easy to slip into a self-serving attitude; thinking that if I help this student in an efficient manner then I will be rewarded by their response to my service. This is something that is certainly a struggle, but it is my daily prayer that the Lord receives all the glory, honor, and praise for my work.

A verse that has proven to be a great reminder for me to daily live out of the gospel in my particular vocation is the following:

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than your selves” (Philippians 2:3).

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or comments.