June 26, 2019

Working Hard and Trusting God

Despite his young age, La Sierra University computer science graduate Ethan Morales-Vierna has learned the lesson many grasp only after years of living — that the best approach to life’s hurdles is to work hard and trust God.

In September 2019, after a college career that has involved scholarships and awards, Morales-Vierna will begin a job he previously held only in his hopes for the future. The 21-year-old resident of Los Angeles, California, United States, who graduated June 16, 2019, will enter the aerospace industry as a software developer for conglomerate Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Redondo Beach facility. He will help create advanced routing technology for air force pilots. The job was offered to Morales-Vierna following his completion of a paid internship last summer, an opportunity that initially came his way, he believes, through providential intervention.

Ethan Morales-Vierna in a computer lab at La Sierra University. He graduated June 16, 2019, with a Bachelor of Science in computer science. [Photo: Natan Vigna]

The connection came about through a friend at Morales-Vierna’s church, who also works for the company, but the La Sierra University student was initially turned down for an internship interview due to lack of available positions. He was later called and offered the internship opportunity in February 2018. He believes God had a “very big hand” in opening up the position. 

Morales-Vierna said, “The way I like to put it is, ‘Work as if it depends on you, and pray as if it depends on God.’ I was fortunate enough to have been brought up in a family where that was instilled from a very young age, and I’ve carried that throughout my life.”  

Early Challenges

Morales-Vierna is the only child of Edwin Morales and Evelyn Vierna. He attended Glendale and San Gabriel Adventist academies through 12th grade and is a member along with his parents of the Downey Seventh-day Adventist Church. Morales-Vierna has been an active church participant throughout his youth, including functioning as a Pathfinder leader. He helped out during his breaks from college by giving the children’s story at church and collecting the offering. 

The faith-building challenge of securing an internship and right-out-of-college job at one of America’s largest aerospace defense contractors is not the only situation in which Morales-Vierna has witnessed God’s intervention. When he was nine months old, his family stared down a much greater obstacle when he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Again God intervened. When he was five years old, Morales-Vierna went into remission from the disease, he said. 

“There were many hours in which my parents, family, and church members spent pleading with God to help me prevail,” he recalled. It came to a point, he said, where they had to accept the possibility that the youngster might not make it. “My parents threw themselves at the feet of Jesus and told Him, ‘He was Yours before he was ours. He is our son and we do not want him to die, but God, if You allow this to happen, we will still worship You till the end of days.’ Remission was a blur for me seeing how I was still very young, but my family and loved ones were overcome with joy and gave all the glory to God.” 

Placed There for a Reason

Morales-Vierna said at Northrop Grumman he will be working with some of the brightest people he’s ever met, but his abilities and work ethic have garnered recognition. His awards include three Edison International STEM scholarships at La Sierra University as well a Victor and Alina Tolan STEM scholarship. He landed on the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s List of Academic Honors multiple times and this year was among three residential assistants in La Sierra’s Towers dormitory for men to receive Senior of the Year awards in their respective fields. He was a student association senator during the 2015-16 school year.  

Morales-Vierna is grateful, he says, for the instruction and guidance he received through La Sierra’s computer science faculty members, and he looks forward to his new career, which is already taking off, despite the obstacles.

“God put me there for a reason,” he said. “I’m going to put it in God’s hands and assume it was for the best.”

The original version of this story was posted on the La Sierra University news site.