The ideal university experience is one that gives us much more than just a degree. It’s one that inspires, providing the knowledge, skills and opportunities to confidently face the world.
It’s hard to find a university that fits this description better than Trinity Western University (TWU), a Christian liberal arts university in British Columbia, Canada.
Armed with the tools and skills sharpened during their time at TWU, alumni here have gone on to fruitful endeavours in various fields and industries.
Take Andrew Hansen, the founder and CEO of Site Marketing Partners, for example.
Instead of following in his father’s footsteps to a career in medicine, as his twin brother did, Andrew charted his own individual path by graduating with a business administration degree from TWU in 2013.
Since graduating, Andrew has gone on a career trajectory worthy of recognition as BC’s Top 30 under 30 by BCBusiness in 2019.
He launched his own company leveraging on his construction network to land some clients after noticing there wasn’t an agency that specializes in the industrial or “blue-collar” market, which covers construction to mining.
Hansen told BCBusiness, “We can step into any construction client and we’ll know their business. We can walk in there and we can shoot a video the next day.”
This is the type of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking fostered at Trinity Western’s School of Business.
Students here have opportunities such as mentorships with local business executives, access to supportive alumni networks, study abroad experiences, and the chance to compete in national business competitions.
Class sizes are small, which allows more engagement with experienced faculty who still maintain industry links so they are updated on the latest business developments.
All these provided an effective set up for Andrew’s success today. “I was able to go into the workforce with momentum and real-world experience,” he says. “I wouldn’t have been able to do that had my professors not invested in me.”
Legacy of alumni who become changemakers
The university has a longstanding reputation of developing high-impact alumni. Bethlehem Tilahun who originally hails from Ethiopia, is a successful entrepreneur who is using her education and cultural insights to pursue global sustainable economic development.
She is doing so through partnering with a friend who started a company called Mella, which aims to propel entrepreneurship in Ethiopia by igniting the spirits of young people and helping them build a positive future for themselves.
Mella helps young people pursue business ventures through hosting events on a monthly basis, building a social media platform, and providing unique opportunities.
Tilahun received her Masters of Business Administration from TWU. She said, “When I enter Ethiopia, I take it with openness for what it is. It’s important to be without bias or expectations of what I will encounter. I am an empty vessel going into Ethiopia, and my goal is to fill up when I get there. This is how I believe I will have an impact.”
Another example of how TWU’s students leave a legacy of making an impact on people’s lives is the story of how True Pay Na Moo, a former refugee, was awarded a scholarship under the Trinity Refugee Awareness Campaign (TRAC) in 2017.
TRAC was born after alumni Jordan Koslowsky went on a trip as part of TWU Global Projects to the Middle East, where he visited one of the oldest refugee camps in the world. It opened his eyes to a global issue, quickly becoming close to his heart as he was moved by the injustice taking place before his eyes and became motivated to do something about it.
That led to the birth of the Trinity Refugee Awareness Campaign (TRAC) was born, where they embarked on a project to create a scholarship that would award one former refugee with a fully-funded university education at TWU, which went to True.
True had spent the first decade of her life in a refugee camp in Thailand along the Myanmar border, then moved with her family to Canada in 2007 with many other refugee families.
She initially struggled with learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture, but she embraced these challenges and worked hard to build a new life for herself.
The TRAC team was touched by her resilience, perseverance and devotion to God. As her world expanded, True became passionate about fostering conversation, community, and compassion in the multicultural country of Canada. As she begins her new chapter as a student at Trinity, she says she is there not only to earn a degree but also to heed God’s call to serve others.
“It’s not just about my people; it’s everybody. God doesn’t look for whoever is perfect already but who is available.”
The story of True and TRAC is a reflection of how one’s student dream can help another achieve theirs, and an example of how TWU fosters a compassionate and generous spirit in its students.
TRAC has since raised a total of $116,000 for their projects, and has decided to make the Sharing Inspiration scholarship central to the organization’s cause in supporting refugee families.
Developing transferable skills
No matter who you are or where you are from, TWU is a university that prepares graduates to face the world.
Scott Forsyth, who graduated with a BBA in Marketing & Management from TWU in 2014, is a great example of this aspirational spirit.
The 28-year-old living in British Columbia is currently an international dance choreographer, as well as owner and founder of Studio North Dance Complex. He has also appeared on NBC’s World Of Dance, and America’s Got Talent, worked with some of the largest international music artists and co-owns two dance competitions.
Though dance and business are worlds apart, Forsyth still wholeheartedly attributes his career to his degree and academic experience at TWU.
“A business degree is so versatile to any profession and a degree from Trinity is even more so because of the holistic approach.
“I use what I learned at TWU on a daily basis from simple skills like networking, budgeting, public speaking, and what it means to be professional all the way to building my own brand, marketing myself in a competitive landscape, what it means to do business ethically and how to navigate through the grey areas of business.”
Working in the entertainment industry can be cutthroat but Scott always finds strength thanks to his time at TWU.
“My four years at Trinity helped shape my faith and equipped me with the tools to go out into the secular world and be a witness to skeptics and unbelievers in the darkest of places. During my studies, one verse particularly stood out which is Colossians 3:23 that says “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” he said.
“I’ve come to realize that if we as Christians just get really good at what we do, people notice and start to ask questions, which becomes a huge opportunity to share our faith.”