Student Learns Leadership, Inspires Others

Student Learns Leadership, Inspires Others

Jonathan Amaro studies marketing at Southwestern.

Keene, Texas is a long way from Brooklyn, but Jonathan Amaro likes it just fine. He’s learned that the true measure of where you are is often the journey you have to take to get there.

Jonathan was born in New York City. Originally from Puerto Rico, his parents started classes at Antillian University, but didn’t finish school and the family lived in New York until he was 11.

“It was really tough, we lived hard,” Jonathan says. “We would need food stamps and lived week by week.” Their Brooklyn neighborhood had a high crime rate. Jonathan’s father took night classes while he worked and often got home late. Eventually his father got a degree in math, and began teaching in an Adventist academy in New York.

Later his family moved to Frisco, Texas. Jonathan had attended public school his entire life, and he wasn’t used to private schools at all. He came to Southwestern to visit his cousin, and found it very different.

“I remember I entered the café, and everyone was so nice,” he says. “I thought maybe it was just because I was so new.”

When it came time for him to choose which college he would go to, his parents prompted him to go to Southwestern, at least for a semester, and he decided to go.

“I didn’t know anybody when I got here,” he says. The day after he arrived, he was overwhelmed by the number of people saying hi to him. “It was really weird because I’m not used to it. Everybody was really nice and helpful. I felt really welcomed, and it was one thing I really liked about the University.” Eventually Jonathan learned to be that way as well, which ran contrary to the way he had grown up in New York.

“Being friendly is contagious,” he says. “I try to do the same things that students did to me when I got here. And I see students who were shy when they first got here doing the same thing after a while. It’s a good environment. Everybody cares for everybody.”

Today, Jonathan is entering his senior year as a marketing major. He spent the past three years in the dorm, and worked as a recruiter and for Southwestern’s department of spiritual development as outreach coordinator.

“When we had outreach events every Saturday afternoon, we’d go to the homeless shelter, give out water bottles on the street with a message. There were always people that you could tell, you made their day or put a smile on their face, and that’s always a good feeling.

“There were many times in outreach when we impacted people’s lives and a lot of students here hadn’t really gotten a chance to experience that—touching somebody’s life.

“I feel that Southwestern has a lot of student leaders, and I want to inspire other students to become leaders. We had a lot of leaders come up from our outreach, which is something I don’t think we otherwise would have had. After joining outreach as leaders, they went on to do different things, like vespers and afterglow.”

Jonathan is not really sure where he will be a year from now after he graduates, but he is sure of one thing: God will lead the way.

“Southwestern has really taught me that when you put God first, everything else falls into place. That’s been my experience here at Southwestern, and that’s something that I am going to take with me everywhere.”

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