• Student Spotlight

    Karla Velis LargeKarla Velis
    San Salvador, El Salvador
    Class of 2015
    Major: Business Leadership

    I sat in my car waiting for the red light to change. I was thinking about those who had died in a bus fire set by gangsters in San Salvador when a girl knocked on my window. She had a lifeless look, messy hair and a dirty face, and she begged for money. But at that moment, the light turned green, and I barely had time to reach into my pocket and give her two quarters. Yet she smiled at me. Beyond her, beggars and drug addicts were lying on the sidewalks. They were everywhere and yet nowhere. Next to them, an old lady sold fruit trying to earn some honest money. Standing under a blazing sun for hours every day, her wrinkled face showed the hardships and suffering of her life. My drive that day only lasted a few minutes, yet it has taken me years of thinking and praying to decide how I am going to help change the situation in my country. I have promised myself that I will spend my life helping my people by doing more than just giving money at traffic lights.

    I grew up in a Christian family with my father, a pastor; my mother, a professor; and two siblings. While El Salvador is the size of Massachusetts, making it the smallest country in Central America, it has the largest population—seven million people—with a third of them living on less than one dollar per day. So I grew up seeing the “best” and the “worst” of real world economics. Some of my friends could barely get to a Sunday service because they struggled having to come up with the 25 cent bus fare, while other friends arrived in their cars.

    The Salvadorian reality of extreme economic division and daily government struggles has taught me that God has a perfect purpose in putting us into certain places. Coming to Kuyper College is the first step toward helping me keep the promise I made to myself. When I return to El Salvador, I will use my business leadership degree to help provide jobs, create opportunities for, and meet the needs of, the poor.

    I transferred to Kuyper from El Salvador’s Central America University, where each class, taught by atheist professors, was overflowing with hundreds of nameless students. While here at Kuyper, everyone knows each other by first and last name and our professors are invested in our learning. They are committed to their profession and their relationship with the students, using their free time to answer questions if needed and showing care when one of us is not doing well. Seeing my professors on their tiptoes, speaking passionately and using both body language and words to teach us, has taught me to be passionate about what I do. You can imagine the shock both academically and culturally. It is very different. People in the halls probably know me as the loud Latina with a scandalous laugh. And I still forget that I don’t have to do the “Latin how are you”—kissing everyone every time I greet them.

    However, God has given me special and unique friendships, and shows me daily that He is with me even though I am far from my home.

    When I leave Kuyper I am looking forward to seeing the Salvadorian flag hanging in the Kuyper gym* as a symbol of my hope of reaching and impacting the people of El Salvador with God’s grace. After graduation, I am planning to join the Salvadorian business world, gaining experience in different companies, and later, running a family business. I want to be a woman of God that helps build an equitable society and spends herself in finding solutions to the many terrible problems of El Salvador.

    Frankly, right now I don’t know how I am going to do this. I don’t know how this will be accomplished, but I do know I have already started on the road to making it happen by coming to Kuyper College. I surely have many plans, but after all, God is the one who opens and closes doors, so while I will be prepared, I will let Him show me where, when and how all of this is to happen.
     

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