Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Zaida Galva (in robe) and her friends lead students in praise and worship during the baptismal celebration.

True Education: A Student’s Testimony

Story by Zaida Galva

I can definitely say coming to Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA) was a God-worked plan. My name is Zaida Galva, and I am a senior from New York City, a place where you are confronted with lots of challenges on a daily basis. City life is extremely fast-paced, and you never really have a chance to establish deep relationships with those around you. That all changed when I arrived at SVA.

Boarding school has allowed me to create such deeply rooted relationships with my friends that it feels like I have known them for years. SVA has helped me strengthen my relationship with God, learn to have integrity and, most importantly, treat others with kindness. Living in the dorm is such a fun experience that the memories will stick with me forever. I will never forget dorm spiritual retreats, Saturday night sleepovers, early morning devotionals in someone else’s room, and all the screams after receiving notes from the guys on note night.

The most memorable moment was my baptism last May. Each Monday during the school year, I studied for baptism with Pastor Tim Harley, and it changed my life 100 percent for the better. That Friday evening, we all headed to Lake Arrowhead for vespers. We sang songs and admired the sunset. Before getting in the water, Pastor Harley prayed over me (pictured). Coming up out of the water was one of the best feelings ever! Then opening my eyes to see the faces of all my peers, faculty and staff members who have supported me was so uplifting. These people were no longer my friends; they had become my family—a community that has supported me through some of my most challenging moments. And they continue to do so today.

I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to experience SVA boarding school life, especially in a community like this that strives for unity in Christ and with those around you. None of this would be possible without the dedication of the faculty and staff members who serve the student body and edify us in any way possible. I can most definitely guarantee there is no place like SVA.

“True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come” (Ellen White, Education, p. 13).

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