Posted by: Justin Wallace | December 28, 2010

Stories :: Ashley Cerbone, University of South Florida

I love stories. I love sitting down with a student over a cup of coffee and hearing their story for the first time. I love reading stories. I love it when we ask our seniors to write out their story for a newsletter or our blog. It reminds me that God is at work and God is still changing lives. This past week I received a newsletter from my good friend from Impact Campus Ministries at the University of South Florida, John Vollstedt. I love receiving newsletters from other campus ministers. In his newsletter was a story about Ashley who just graduated. Her story triggered an idea. I want to share students stories here at HOCM. So, today you’ll read Ashley’s story. Please send me a story of a student in your ministry. Maybe they wrote it for a newsletter, a blog or maybe you can ask them to write it specifically for HOCM. If you have a story please email it to me at justin [at] impactcharlotte [dot] com.

As I am about to graduate, I find myself looking back over the past 4 years at the University of South Florida and it makes me smile realizing all of the inspirational people I have met, the different roads I have gone down, and the different experiences I have had. I am graduating with a degree in Elementary Education and I look forward to spending my career impacting and influencing children of all types and ages. Throughout my years at USF I was involved in a number of different things, but one group that left a lasting impression on me was Impact Christian Fellowship.

My sister, who is two years older than me, introduced me to Impact my freshman year of college. As soon as I met John and others in Impact, I knew I had found a place on campus that consisted of great people with a common faith. Over the past four years, I have seen Impact change and new faces come and go, but it is still a group of people that have a love for the Lord and want to share his word together. Whether it was a big group with a band and singing or a smaller group doing a bible study, Impact has always been a place for me to learn more about God and his Word. Impact was fun because we were like a family. We volunteered together at the Stampede of Service and Metropolitan Ministries, had dinners together, played intramural sports, and worshipped the Lord. It was an environment where people had a love for each other. We all loved coming in every week and talking to each other about our lives, whether it was school, work, or family. It is hard to find a group of people like that at college, so it was encouraging to know that I belonged to Impact and was associated with such a special group of people.

My best friend was not much of a believer, but she always heard me coming home talking about Impact and the people I had made friends with there. She met John and the others and immediately wanted to keep coming back every week. She said it was a place that made her excited to learn about the Lord and did not make her feel uncomfortable. A couple of my other friends over the years also came to Impact with me and always left telling me how welcoming the environment was. My years in college were years of spiritual growth and I owe a lot of that to Impact. It taught me that there are others around me in college that are eager to share their time with each other and God. I also learned how to step out of my comfort zone through bible studies, leading discussions, and talking to complete strangers on campus about Christ (something we did with InterVarsity raising awareness about human trafficking).

Graduating from USF is a bitter-sweet moment because I will be moving on to start my career in something that I love, but I am also leaving a group of people that truly influenced my life. I know I will keep in contact with many from Impact and I cannot wait to see how Impact grows throughout the years. It was not only a campus ministry, but also a group of friends. I really enjoyed playing intramural softball and football with Impact. I also had the opportunity to be the financial officer, which allowed me to help plan events for others on campus to enjoy, like a coffee house for those studying during finals week. I looked forward to Tuesday/Thursday nights for the past four years and I hope that others will discover Impact on campus because of how it can change their lives the way it did mine.

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