On March 30, Pacific Union College welcomed student association officers from 10 other Adventist colleges across North America. Collectively referred to as the Adventist Intercollegiate Association (AIA), the organization gathers each year on the campus of a different Adventist college or university for several days of reflection, worship and community, and professional development planned by the host school. Both current as well as incoming student association officers were present.
This year, close to 150 students and sponsors attended the convention, representing Andrews University, Burman University, La Sierra University, Loma Linda University, Oakwood University, Southern Adventist University, Southwestern Adventist University, Union College, Walla Walla University, Washington Adventist University, and host school Pacific Union College.
The theme of this year’s convention was “Rethink, Rebuild, Repackage,” with an intentional focus to help students become better leaders, and in turn help them become leaders within the Adventist church. A convention highlight included a panel where students could ask questions of Adventist leaders, including special guests Elder Daniel R. Jackson, the president of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists; Daniel Weber, director of Communication for the NAD; Tracy Wood, Youth & Young Adult Ministries Director for the NAD; and Jared Thurmon, Strategic Partnerships Liaison Marketing for the Adventist Review.
There were also several breakout sessions, where outgoing officers were given the opportunity to impart what they have learned in their position to incoming officers. There were thoughtful discussions on team building, collaboration, event planning, publications, video, and more. PUC campus chaplains Jonathan Henderson and Shantel Smith lead out in leadership training workshops focused on theme building and intergenerational ministry. Several PUC faculty members also hosted workshops during the convention, offering visiting students their expertise in a variety of subjects.
“My prayer is student leaders across the NAD will feel empowered to be strong leaders, articulate the voice of collegiate youth to their administration, all our college presidents, our NAD leaders, and even their own AIA organization so ultimately we can impact the future of Seventh-day Adventism in a very positive way,” said Lisa Bissell Paulson, vice president for student services.
Thursday morning, AIA visitors respectfully gathered with the PUC campus family for the memorial of Fen Pan, a PUC student who passed away following a tragic vehicle accident on Monday, March 28. During the memorial, students and faculty from other Adventist institutions who have recently passed away were also honored with a moment of silence.
Visitors also had the opportunity to spend time on PUC’s campus and explore the surrounding Napa Valley. Thursday evening guests were treated to a semi-formal banquet at Greystone at the Culinary Institute of America. Friday afternoon, there was hiking in the college’s back 40 property, shopping in nearby St. Helena, and a trip to Elmshaven, the historic home of Ellen G. White.
For Sabbath, AIA students headed to San Francisco to participate in a “blessings trail” scavenger hunt, where bags of toiletries were distributed to the homeless. Worship closed the Sabbath, then students enjoyed treats and ice cream sundaes from world-famous chocolatier Ghirardelli.
“We’re only together once a year, and there’s a lot of important things we need to talk about,” shares PUC student association president Nic Miller. “We wanted to see what we could do to make AIA so it’s not just a get together; we need to talk about issues at each of our schools and within the church and how we can be a bigger part of it. The church is finally starting to recognize the importance and value of the young adult voice … If we’re going to be part of it, we need to be cohesive. AIA is powerful; it’s 10 schools across North America with a voice and we need to use that voice to do good.”