Emily LaVelle ’14
Emily Lavelle ’14 has had a passion for art and nature since she was a young girl, but life’s hardships and traumatic memories slowly pushed that passion aside.
At 18 months old, Emily contracted spinal meningitis, which left her deaf. Determined to make the best of the situation, Emily and her mother cultivated her emerging passion for nature and art through photography and painting. “My mom taught me to see the world with an artistic eye,” Emily says.
But at 16, her mother received a cancer diagnosis, and passed away soon after her brief battle with the disease. In her grief, and almost without noticing, LaVelle closed the door on her love for nature and passion for art.
Entering her freshman year at Azusa Pacific University, Emily had her heart set on the nursing program, hoping to help others in the same way her mom had been helped throughout her battle with cancer. As time went on, Emily realized something was missing. The passion for art that had been stifled for so many years began to reemerge. “I picked up my pencil, and it was there in my heart that I realized it was a part of me.”
“God made me to be an artist for Him.”
She eventually made a bold decision to change majors, and three years later, graduated from APU with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Art (now the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art). “My mom honored and glorified God in life and in death,” LaVelle said. “As an artist, I can honor the gift and memory of my mom in a way that is true to how God made me.”
Read more of Emily’s story in the APU Life article, “Silent Beauty.”
For Todd, who was born with spastic cerebral palsy, Walkabout served as a reminder that life is about trusting God. “No matter how hard I think I have to work at something and use my own strength— it’s not enough. That’s something that God’s teaching me. I don’t have to depend on myself. I have to depend on Him.”