Student Leaders Meet at Rosario Beach

Annual Conference Opportunity for Networking, New Ideas

By: Martin Surridge

WWU student and Adventist Intercollegiate Association president Eric Barnes led out at the gathering of student leaders from Adventist colleges and universities.

From March 28 to 31, Walla Walla University hosted the annual gathering for the Adventist Intercollegiate Association at Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory. This group is made up of student association leaders from 11 Seventh-day Adventist universities and colleges throughout North America. Some of its goals are to bring student leaders together to share ideas and to help raise money for worthy causes. In fact, in the past five years, they have raised over a quarter of a million dollars, helping a number of humanitarian organizations.

AIA president, Eric Barnes, a pre-med and religion major at WWU, led out in the proceedings at this year’s meeting. He had been elected last year by the various student association representatives from across the country. Prior to that, he had served as the social vice-president for WWU’s student association.

Besides Barnes, a number of other student leaders, including Ian Field, Alexi Andregg, Alisa Oberg, Bill Lenz, John Yousry, and Rob Folkenberg, helped plan the conference. “We all worked together to organize the weekend, lead out in the various workshops, breakout sessions, and committee meetings,” says Barnes. “Alisa Oberg put together a great office vs. office competition that spanned throughout the meeting and challenged each group, including a jump into the ocean. It was a great experience!”

In addition to the meetings, students also went on a special “spiritual cruise” on Sabbath -- a ferry ride and island tour with devotional thoughts along the way. “One of the best outcomes of the weekend is the networking that happens every year and the relationships that are formed,” says Barnes.

During the conference, each AIA constituent was placed into a committee to make proposals for improving the intercollegiate organization, and the schools agreed to increase the organization’s budget to provide for the creation of a new web portal and more leadership positions. One new position will be a WWU AIA representative who will keep our university connected with each of the other schools in North America.

Collegian Editor Ian Field said, “This is the third time I have been able to attend this convention, and each time I have come away with a profound appreciation for WWU and the quality of student life we have here.”

And WWU Church Senior Pastor Alex Bryan, who spoke to student leaders four times throughout the weekend, said, “My conviction that Adventist Christian higher education is of enormous importance to the future of my faith tradition and our world was sky-high. It dawned on me: I have witnessed the hope for tomorrow.”

Barnes believes in that future too, saying, “This cooperative network of student associations can truly change the collegiate experience of Adventist students. We have the potential to do extraordinary things.” 

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