A New Vision: Center for Student Action

by Michaela Pereira '12

“The whole is better than the sum of its parts,” said Matt Browning, Ed.D., associate vice president of internationalization. He believes that Azusa Pacific University’s new Center for Student Action can effectively bring a collective group of offices together to meet local and international needs.

Almost two years in the making, the center brings together six campus offices including the Office of Spiritual Life, Mexico Outreach, World Missions, Center for Global Learning and Engagement, H.I.S. years, and the International Center.

According to Browning, “The center is a philosophical umbrella bringing together people, policies, programs, resources, and ideas to create a common message for students.” According to Matt Visser, director of the Office of Ministry and Service, by working together these offices can create a common goal to unite efforts. Pooling resources and being more efficient in program planning can lead to increased mobilization among students, thereby creating a bigger impact.

“The foundation for this center is to mobilize students to care. Everyone matters, whether they’re in Los Angeles, Mexico, or anywhere in the world,” said Visser.

Browning believes there should be no division between social justice and evangelism. “The Gospel tells us to love everyone and through this center we can make sure that everyone matters.” Jillian Gilbert, operations manager for the Center for Student Action, said, “We don’t want to create programs for students just to have programs, but for the programs to have intention and to focus on things bigger than us.”

The center’s ultimate goal is to educate and mobilize the Azusa Pacific University undergraduates toward advancing the work of God in the world. It’s about creating a collective mobilized effort. “We want students to have a quality intercultural experience when they graduate,” said Visser.

With APU’s God First motto in mind, Browning said, “We want to engage people to take action and see the life of Jesus. Jesus took the initiative and was always taking action. We need to do the same. With 5,000 undergrad students, there is a lot of power that can come from that and we can get serious about poverty.”

By fulfilling local and international needs, Visser said, “We want to remind students: what dream are we living? Ours or God’s for the world?”