By Amy Hauptman

Becoming Courageous at Fresno State

Before Santa Hernandez had ever stepped foot on her college campus, she already knew that she wanted to get involved with InterVarsity. She even knew what manuscript Bible study was!

“During my senior year of high school, my friend Timmy would meet up with me to see how I was doing as the new Christian club leader,” said Santa. “One day, we met up to get coffee and then he started talking about the manuscript Bible study that InterVarsity would do.”

When Timmy actually led Santa through a manuscript study, she loved it—especially the way that the method helped her go deeper into the Bible.

Finding InterVarsity

After Santa graduated from high school and started college at California State University, Fresno, one of the first things she did was find InterVarsity’s table during New Student Outreach.

She got involved right away and wasn’t shy about her involvement. During her first semester she would often talk with her friends about God and invite them to check out InterVarsity too. 

“Every time I would talk to someone on campus about God I would get more and more excited,” said Santa. “Each time felt like a challenge but it was something I was willing to do for God.”

Growing as a Leader

This year, Santa, now a sophomore, is taking even more risks for God.

Fresno State is part of the California State University system, which has refused to recognize Santa and her InterVarsity chapter as an official student club on campus (see news coverage here). “Since we can’t technically do normal student outreach like the rest of the student clubs, I was given the challenge to wear an InterVarsity banner backpack one day and to make an announcement about InterVarsity in one of my classes (while wearing the banner backpack),” said Santa. “I didn’t want to do it at first, but I also felt like I needed to do it. My motivation all comes from God.”

After Santa gave the announcement in her class, one student came up to Santa and said that he was interested in getting involved!

Santa has also stepped into a leadership role this year, becoming a student leader with InterVarsity’s LaFe ministry. A conference she had attended her freshman year, the Mosaic Conference, had increased her desire to reach out to her Latino peers on campus.

“I learned so much at this conference,” said Santa. “I learned that my cultural identity was important and as a Latina I should embrace who I am. I didn’t realize how loss of cultural identity was a huge crisis. It made me want to immerse myself in my own culture and love my own culture.”

New Challenges

Becoming a student leader has brought with it some new challenges for Santa. “I’ve been a high school student leader, but that is very different from what I’m doing now,” said Santa. “I feel like joining leadership with InterVarsity is a whole new step, and frankly it’s a bit scary and overwhelming.”

But she can also see how much she’s grown spiritually as a result of InterVarsity’s presence on campus.

“It feels like I’m no longer eating baby food, because I want more than that,” said Santa. “I want solid food now as a Christian. For me this is a huge transition, and it’s because of InterVarsity.”

Santa has also grown closer to God from being mentored and discipled by an InterVarsity staff. “Christina Quintanilla has challenged me to spend every day with Jesus,” said Santa. “She’s guided me through being a leader with LaFe. I am thankful for the ways that she has shown me that I can’t live, even a second, without God.”