May 2, 2016


Adventist Review spoke to staff and students about the advantages and disadvantages of living in an urban setting.


A lot of Adventist institutions began in rural settings, then got swallowed by “city creep.” Adventist Review visited the campus of Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland (about a mile from the District of Columbia), and spoke to staff and students about the advantages and disadvantages of living in an urban setting. —Editors.

The proof of your faith is not when you do not have temptations, but when you’re surrounded by them. My daughter graduated from here. She is a strong woman of God.

We are growing in the path of God, becoming great servants and leaders in the community. We are examples to the community. For those who are unaware of the temptations of the city, or serving in urban areas, it might be a challenge. It’s a great time to trust in the name of Jesus Christ.

Wanda Colon-Canales, director of admission

I play basketball here. I sing. We’re in the capital. A lot of people are willing to help if you just ask. My spiritual life has grown.

Courtney Jenkins, early childhood education, speech pathology

I  love the city. It gives us access to various job and internship opportunities. It allows us to meet individuals who have different backgrounds. That’s what higher education is all about: understanding how the world works. The advantage of the city is the accessibility. We have a great transit system. I see no disadvantage of getting an education in the city; I see it as an opportunity. We are instructed to be the light of the world.

—AtEcia Edwards, music, business administration

Being in a metropolitan area versus a more rural area is an advantage for the students, for the university, and for the Adventist message as a whole. I love that students can hop on the bus right in front of the school, go to the train station, and get to D.C. quick and fast.

It can be a distraction for young women and men; being in a city [means] they have more things to do. They can stay out later. The distractions may keep them from doing their work from time to time. But the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.

Sabrina Etienne, assistant dean of women

It’s definitely a plus. I went to Southern Illinois University. It’s not in the middle of nowhere, but it’s around a lot of country. Everything’s around here. You have Walmart, McDonald’s; you have grocery stores.

As far as schoolwork, it’s a plus. It’s easier to call classmates for help, or see professors. You can have a face-to-face anytime. It’s definitely a plus going to school here.

—Ronald Farmer-Blanchard, senior

I’ve been in Adventist universities both in rural settings, at Burman University, and here, when I was a student in 2002. In a rural community it’s a lot easier to develop a sense of campus community. In an urban setting, sometimes, because everyone has their own places to go, their own restaurants and their own churches, it can be a little more difficult to create a sense of campus community.

Living in an urban setting exposes you to many different beliefs, types of people, cultures. It can be challenging for sure. But ultimately that’s something that can help you grow spiritually. You could probably visit a different church every week and meet new people every single week of the year.

Traffic is terrible. There are distractions in an urban setting. But having been in both urban and rural settings, you find what you’re looking for.

Preston Hawes, director, New England Youth Ensemble

At first I wasn’t familiar with [the city]. You get used to it. In the city you can reach more of the metropolitan area. You can reach more young people. It’s an advantage to let people know more about who we are and what we’re about.

We can’t allow that same culture that’s outside to come into the school.

Keston Greene, religion and computer science

I  grew up in the suburbs, not far from here. It was a good change for me. I was happy to come into the city. It was easy to get around if I wanted to go somewhere.

A lot of people support the school and the community. A community does help. There’s a lot of traffic

Tyler Nicolas, computer science

I  like to study in the city. I like to be with different types of people, to know their culture. In a village you don’t see different kinds of people.

Abdulla Haznu, computer science

The location of the school makes it easy to do the school’s motto: “Gateway to Service.” Since we are located in the city, service is easier to do.

You see so many different lifestyles from this area into the heart of D.C. People might think it’s more dangerous. But you have to be smart and resourceful, and you have to trust God that you’re going to be OK.

Denique Isaac, vocal performance

You have things to do on weekends. Those who have been kind of sheltered back home may see it as “Let me see what I can get into.”

There are 20 or 30 churches within the area; and the General Conference is not far away.

Cindy Ming, assistant to vice president for student life

I  came to Washington Adventist University in 2004, and it was pretty much city at that time. It’s a bedroom community that’s truly landlocked in the city. Most of our students use public transportation to come to and leave the campus. It’s truly a metropolitan institution.

Though rural is a nice place, the Lord’s work is done everywhere. A group of us enjoy this city and the whole concept around it.

There’s the parking problem. It’s great, except for the parking.

Bruce Peifer, vice president for student life

I’m a city girl. When I was trying to pick schools, I wanted to go where there’s a lot of ethnic diversity. There’s a lot you can do around here. Not a lot of schools in other places are able to do that.

Olivia Turner, psychology

I  came here my freshman year and was able to volunteer at the 2012 presidential inauguration. I’m from Bermuda. That was a big piece of history I got to experience. There’s a lot to do, never really a dull moment.

Christian Wright, health and fitness management