RUF Interns & Staff in the Northeast

Interns

Kelsey Rodriguez (University of Vermont) looks forward to seeing God transform lives, just as her own life story was rewritten. Kelsey’s family in Hickory, North Carolina was Christian but broken, and their voices were often raised in anger. As a child, Kelsey believed that she must earn God’s approval — his smile — by being a “good” Christian. Although she was attempting to be righteous, Kelsey’s passion for dance drew her deeper into the high school party scene. She continued to party during her freshman year at Wingate College. That year, a campus intern told Kelsey that she could see Christ in her. Kelsey was aghast. While she longed for that statement to be true, she knew her actions and her passions contradicted her beliefs. Kelsey continued to consider the intern’s statement when she transferred to Western Carolina University the next year. Through the RUF ministry there, she learned that Christianity must be lived as well as spoken. A friend helped her embrace the truth that Jesus paid for all her failures and gave her a new identity. When she graduated with a major in sociology in 2017, Kelsey was a new woman. After she completes her internship, Kelsey is considering pursuing a degree in counseling or working on staff at a Christian recreational camp. Kelsey loves hiking, backpacking, snowboarding, and rock climbing. If she’s not outside, she may be found curled up with a book, playing a board game, or listening to her record collection.
kelsey.rodriguez@ruf.org
RUF at the University of Vermont

Chet Bickhart (Boston University) A Division-1 rower, Chet could not find a Bible study tailored to an athlete’s demanding schedule at Lehigh University. So, he and a friend started an athlete-focused Bible study and discipleship group. Chet’s desire to grow as a Christian began while attending Deerfoot Lodge, a Christian outdoor camp. As a child from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Chet relished his yearly pilgrimage to the wilderness of upstate New York where he learned to canoe, backpack and shoot a bow and arrow. During his last year as a camper, he also noticed Christians whose faith went deeper than his, who worshiped with passion. While he had professed to be a Christian as a boy, he did not connect his faith to his lifestyle. At Deerfoot Lodge, he realized that faith required more from him. The next year, Chet attended Lehigh University, receiving degrees in mechanical engineering and finance while competing on the rowing team. Chet relished seeing fellow students mature in their faith as he had, but he had little time to delve into theology. Chet looks forward to studying scripture and theology more as an intern, as well as continuing to witness God’s life-changing work in others. In Boston, Chet will continue rowing competitively, and he hopes to teach himself the alto saxophone and a new language. After he completes his internship, Chet plans to launch a career in management counseling and leadership development.
chet.bickhart@ruf.org
RUF at Boston University

Serena Jones (Boston University) Serena might be notorious in her hometown of Akron, Pennsylvania, for singing loudly in the car with the windows down. Besides singing enthusiastically, Serena derives deep enjoyment from spending time with her friends, watching comedies, reading books and making long Spotify play lists. During her first two years at Millersville University, she commuted 20 minutes from her parents’ home to Lancaster. Serena was very involved in Millersville’s RUF, participating in the leadership team and leading Bible studies for three semesters. During the summer, she served full-time in youth ministry and relished every minute. In 2018, she graduated with a degree in early childhood education. But instead of pursuing a career teaching, her RUF and youth ministry experiences have led her to consider a career in ministry, and she hopes that her internship will confirm a probable calling to full-time ministry.
serena.jones@ruf.org
RUF at Boston University

Jennifer Marlow(MIT) Jennifer calls Spartanburg, South Carolina home. There, she was raised in a Christian home and became a Christian early in her life. After graduating high school, Jennifer studied Asian Middle Eastern Studies with a minor in Global Health at Duke University in North Carolina (2017). During her first year at Duke, two other freshmen, one named Ben Hoover, encouraged Jennifer to attend a RUF large group at the University of North Carolina, also in Durham. After the meeting, she began attending the RUF ministry at Duke, which was in the process of rebuilding its community. Through RUF, she says she learned that “every person has a story, bruises, value. It’s important to stop and listen, respecting that their stories may differ from yours but no one deserves or is barred from his redeeming grace – and by extension my love.” Jennifer married Ben in 2018. Ben is working in Boston as a cognitive software developer for IBM. After her internship, Jennifer is considering graduate school. She loves reading, play card games, and climbing magnolias.
jennifer.marlow@ruf.org
RUF at MIT

Elisabeth Somerville (Brown University/Rhode Island School of Design) Lissy Somerville’s desire to serve God and others may have originated from her grandparents. Several generations of Lissy’s family were missionaries in East Asia, and her grandfather is a native Korean. Despite Lissy’s childhood in the mountainous town of Montreat, North Carolina, she identifies strongly with this heritage and explored her past while studying abroad in South Korea as an undergraduate at Appalachian State University. She graduated in 2018 with a major in studio art. After graduation Lissy became an RUF intern because she wanted to guide students in their understanding of the gospel and to equip them to serve others. When she completes her internship, Lissy hopes to pursue a graduate degree in early childhood special education to achieve her ultimate goal of working with families as an early intervention specialist. She enjoys baking, playing banjo, creating art, traveling, and studying languages, including Korean, Spanish and American Sign Language.
elisabeth.somerville@ruf.org
RUF at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design

Hannah Moon (University of Connecticut), a New York City girl from birth, enjoys wandering Manhattan’s streets, perusing bookstores, and exploring Central Park. While her parents taught her the basic tenets of Christianity, Hannah did not share their faith until her senior year of high school. Until then, she struggled to understand how a God of love could also be just. Through Redeemer Presbyterian Church, she realized that Jesus’s sacrifice reconciled God’s holiness with his love. Hannah continued to attend Redeemer while studying biochemistry at Hunter College, the largest college in the City University of New York. At Redeemer, Hannah learned about RUF’s City Campus Ministry. RUF was a refuge for Hannah. Many of her classmates were focused on succeeding academically and viewed vulnerability or existential questions as weakness or distractions. In RUF, Hannah found a haven where she could pursue truth and grow in faith. The RUF interns inspired Hannah to become an intern after she graduated in 2016. “I saw that college ministry was important and even life-saving for some students like myself,” she says. After serving at the University of Connecticut, Hannah hopes to pursue medical school.
hannah.moon@ruf.org
RUF at University of Connecticut

Jonathan Keller (University of Connecticut) Not a guy to watch a movie once, Jonathan loves a rerun. While his tastes are broad, he enjoys kid-friendly ones as much as – or more than — darker adult films. Jonathan grew up in Sugar Land, a suburb of Houston, Texas. As a child, he was faithfully taught the gospel, but in college he learned how to follow Christ as an adult. A music major with a minor in religious studies, Jonathan participated in marching band and enjoys playing the acoustic guitar. After a rocky beginning to his college career, Jonathan sought a community of believers who supported him through difficult friendships and challenging courses and who reminded him that God would carry him through those hard semesters. Jonathan hopes that as an intern he’s able to comfort and encourage others in the faith, as he was. He also feels a call to vocational ministry and hopes this time will prepare him to minister elsewhere. Besides enjoying movies and playing music, Jonathan loves to travel – both overseas and abroad. He’s visited four continents, but he also loves exploring random towns or national parks.
jonathan.keller@ruf.org
RUF at University of Connecticut

Abbey Slater (New York University/City Campus RUF) Although was born in Maryland and spent a few years in Illinois, Abbey lived most of her life in Rhode Island. She came to love the state’s rocky coastline and stayed for college, studying secondary education and English at the University of Rhode Island. She left Rhode Island for a semester abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina to improve her Spanish. In 2018, Abbey graduated but decided not to begin her teaching career immediately. The RUF internship emerged as an alternative to moving directly into the workforce, and it allowed her to use her gifts to further God’s kingdom through mentoring young people. After her internship, Abbey hopes to teach high school or middle school English and pursue her ESL degree. In her spare time, Abbey frequently runs. She has competed in two half marathons and plans to complete a whole marathon soon. She enjoys other athletic activities such as rock climbing, hiking climbing, and Frisbee. Her other interests include reading, writing, and photography, and all of her endeavors are fueled by coffee.
abbey.slater@ruf.org
RUF at City Campus

Kyle Sebastian (Columbia University), a Chicago native, originally enrolled in environmental engineering at Northwestern University, hoping to devise a way to improve people’s access to fresh drinking water. In his freshman year, Kyle learned about the horrors of human trafficking and switched majors to social policy. He saw himself working against this injustice by joining a nonprofit or government organization after graduation. As an RUF intern, Kyle remains passionate about addressing injustice. He explains that “one of the greatest injustices is that people don’t have an equal opportunity to know what Jesus has done for them. Many people in the United States, and certainly in the university context, do not know who Jesus truly is and what he has done for them to bring them into a relationship of love with himself.”

At Northwestern, Kyle was surprised to find himself drawn to a reformed fellowship having grown up in a different church context. He chose to join the student leadership ministry team because he admired RUF’s reverence for Scripture and its openness to anyone exploring the claims of Christianity. As a junior and senior, Kyle led RUF large group worship and helped lead the prayer team. Kyle graduated from Northwestern in March 2016. After considering multiple international missions opportunities in Europe, he ultimately decided to become an RUF intern. Kyle envisions five possible career paths after he completes his internship. He may pursue further education through law school, seminary, or a doctorate program in public policy. Kyle is also interested in continuing work in a non-profit organization that helps alleviate the refugee crisis or seeks to end modern-day slavery. He is also considering an alternate career path as a missionary in central Europe, primarily targeting the growing refugee and immigrant population in countries like Germany. In his spare time, Kyle loves to play and compose music. He plays a wide variety of instruments, including the piano, guitar, mandolin, and ukulele.
kyle.sebastian@ruf.org
RUF at Columbia University

Candace Blackwelder (Lehigh University) When she was 17 Candace Blackwelder’s family left San Pedro, California, for rural Kentucky, where she would live for the next seven years. As a child Candace embraced her parents’ Christian faith, but during her high school years her family was seduced by a minister who taught, among other heresies, that only those who followed him were Christians. They were told that the world would end in 2011 and that God was no longer at work in the local church. Fortunately, Candace’s family left the false church just as Candace was graduating from high school and entering the University of Kentucky to study mechanical engineering. Candace did not reach out to RUF until she was a sophomore. Even then she remained suspicious of any church organization. She attended several large group events and asked the RUF minister hard questions. RUF provided her with a safe place to talk about her family’s experience and a chance to participate in healthy Christian community without committing to a church. Through RUF Candace grew in her faith and in her love of Christian fellowship. By her graduation in December 2016 Candace had gained a great appreciation and love for the church. Candace hopes that, through this internship, God will further his sanctifying working and use her to love the students she serves. After finishing her internship she plans to attend seminary and pursue a call to women’s ministry or a hospital chaplaincy. Candace serves at Lehigh University where she enjoys swing dancing in her free time.
candace.blackwelder@ruf.org
RUF at Lehigh University

Julie Rankin (Penn State University) hopes to find a hobby within the next ten years. In the meantime, the native of Pittsburg enjoys sharing meals with others, starting books, and dancing gracelessly. Julie studied social work at the University of Pittsburgh and graduated in 2017. During her freshman year, she discovered RUF and found the community a safe environment to question and explore the faith. Through RUF, Julie says, “the Lord sought me, and I grew in my understanding of my sin and God’s grace and fell in love with the beauty of the gospel.” As a RUF intern, she hopes to share this wonder with the students at Penn State University. She enjoys helping others grapple with questions of faith, life and doubt, and she looks forward to seeing God work through the RUF community. After her internship, she is considering pursuing a career in ministry or social work, or some combination of the two.
julie.rankin@ruf.org
RUF at Penn State University

Zenny Jua (University of Pittsburgh) Zenny was raised in Cameroon. She spent her first 10 years in the French-speaking region called Douala and seven years in the English-speaking zone, Bamenda, where she attended a Roman Catholic boarding school. In 2013, she left Camodia to study business management with a specialization in entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland. During her freshman year, a friend asked Zenny where she would be if she were to die. “Most likely not heaven because I am not pure enough,” she responded. But her friend shared the hope of the gospel – that Zenny would never be good enough, but that Jesus’s goodness could be hers. After further discussions and watching “The Shocking Youth Message” by Paul Washer, Zenny knelt down and cried for “God to be her God in Christ.” Since then, God has faithfully grown her faith. During her senior year, Zenny attended an RUF large group and immediately loved the ministry. Zenny recalls that the room was full of “beautiful singing, beautiful people, beautiful campus minister faithfully teaching God’s word.” Zenny’s faith grew during that year with RUF, and as her graduation approached, she began to consider her future. “I prayed about becoming an intern, it was my conviction that I wanted to be a sister and friend who encourages others to find their fulfillment in our most blessed Savior.” Zenny loves being with people, especially God’s people. She also enjoys music, singing and dancing. When she hears a beat some part of her body instinctively moves to the rhythm. This passion for rhythm and beautiful sounds carries into writing, both through blog posts and through written word. After her internship, Zenny is considering entering into the ministry, possibility with a focus on deaf ministry.
zenny.jua@ruf.org
RUF at University of Maryland

Emily Marsteller (University of Maryland), a Shakespeare aficionado and literature buff, was initially interested in the Bible as a key to studying other texts. When she was a senior in a high school in Washington, D.C., Emily’s comparative literature teacher told her that she would never understand English literature without understanding the Bible. Emily left for Davidson College, North Carolina, determined to learn more about the Bible. Her interest led her to attend a RUF study. The relationships she formed there brought her back – even if she found some of the parables ridiculous. The following spring, after many arguments against becoming a Christian, she found that she did believe. Emily graduated in 2017 with a double major in English and political science. While she plans to pursue a career as a sex-crimes prosecutor, she decided to spend a few years exploring her new-found passion for ministry before entering law school.
emily.marsteller@ruf.org
RUF at University of Maryland

Josh Shaner (University of Maryland) Josh Shaner, a skateboarding enthusiast and an avid podcast listener, has dedicated himself to understanding and sharing biblical knowledge. Josh was raised by Christian parents in Laurel, MD, but his faith was not realized until his junior year of high school. “I experienced the Holy Spirit in a very real way and it changed my life,” he says. Josh attended Lancaster Bible College and graduated with a degree in Science of the Bible in 2016. Afterward, he sought a position that would allow him to pursue his calling to campus ministry while earning his M.Div. The RUF internship allows him to study at Reformed Theological Seminary and trains him for ministry. Once his internship ends, he hopes to finish his degree and become a campus minister.
josh.shaner@ruf.org
RUF at University of Maryland

Staff

Catherine Cook (Harvard University) Catherine Cook is from the deep south but flew north for college and has re-rooted in Boston. She is taking her last class at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary this summer (2018) and is expecting to receive her MDiv in October. She has worked with RUF for three years as intern/staff at the College of William & Mary and has been part time with RUF at Harvard for two years. This Fall, she will serve as Director of Outreach and Discipleship with RUF at Harvard. When she is not having coffee with college students, Catherine is usually seeking out the companionship of either real-life friends or friends in the pages of a book.
catherine.cook@ruf.org
RUF at Harvard University

Maddie Francis (City Campus Ministry) and her family moved from Seattle, Washington to Orlando, Florida the year before Maddie entered kindergarten. They were not planning to live on the East Coast long after her father completed his degree at Reformed Theological Seminary, but years later they still call the Sunshine State home. Maddie graduated from the University of Central Florida in December 2014 with a degree in English Literature. College transformed Maddie’s faith. RUF provided a safe context for her to examine questions and fears about God and Christianity that she was previously ashamed to discuss. God used RUF to teach her that there is respite from anxiety, hope in the midst of suffering, and forgiveness for even the worst parts of herself. As an RUF intern Maddie hopes to provide a safe place for students to discuss the realities of their hearts. After the internship she may pursue dual degrees in divinity and counseling. Maddie loves going to concerts alone, reading Flannery O’Connor, and listening to This American Life.
madeline.francis@ruf.org
RUF in New York City

Callie Miller (University of Pittsburgh) was called to campus ministry after 10 years preparing for a career in science. As full-time campus staff at Pitt, Callie works alongside the campus minister and fosters student leadership. Callie’s return to Pitt is somewhat of a spiritual homecoming. God radically changed Callie’s heart while she was a graduate student at Pitt. Callie had previously attended Francis Marion University in her hometown, Florence, SC. There, she earned a B.S. in Biology (2007) and became increasingly skeptical about her Christian faith. After graduation Callie worked at Pitt as a research specialist for two years before pursuing her doctorate in Molecular Neuropharmacology. Soon after beginning graduate school at Pitt, Callie began attending RUF meetings and a local church. Through these organizations, God transformed Callie’s skepticism and desire for self-determination into faith. Callie met her husband, James, a Pitt alumnus, at a RUF fundraising event. In 2012 Callie completed her studies with an M.S. and began a two-year internship with RUF at Pennsylvania State University. Her internship ended in 2014, and Callie and James were married that summer. Callie served as a campus staff with RUF Lynchburg at Sweet Briar Women’s College until the college announced its closing in 2015. Callie delights in conversation, coffee, dancing, dimples, and big earrings.
callie.miller@ruf.org
RUF at University of Pittsburgh

Joy Beans (Millersville University) Joy has had the unique privilege of walking alongside several students as they progressed through middle school, high school, and now college. Joy initially ministered to these students through her church. Now as a part-time staff member at RUF, Joy continues to mentor them, but their relationship has matured from student-teacher to friend and confidant. Along with mentoring students, Joy’s responsibilities with RUF include offering hospitality, helping with fundraising, and supporting her husband, Millersville’s campus minister. Joy Gordon grew up in Lincthicum, MD and attended Geneva College, graduating with a degree in English and writing in 1991. At her church’s college and career event, she met Trip Beans, and the two were married in 1999. Trip and Joy have spent most of their marriage living in Maryland or Lancaster, PA. Prior to joining the staff at RUF, Joy worked as a classroom aide for an elementary school. In 2015 she became a Title 1 assistant for the school. Joy and Trip have three children, Luke (1996), Adelyn (2002), and Kya (2005). When she is not caring for others, Joy enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and sipping tea.
joy.beans@ruf.org
 RUF at Millersville University

Kristy Hard (office assistant to David Green) Love for her family has shaped Kristy’s career path. During her senior year of high school, Kristy fell in love with her future husband, Michael. The two were married in 1995, after Kristy’s freshman year at Rowan University and, eventually, settled in Easton, PA. Instead of continuing with her college education, Kristy worked as a bank teller and customer service representative at Phillipsburg National Bank. Three years later, Kristy’s first son, Michael, was born and Kristy became a stay-at-home mom. She assisted a crafter for five years while at home and homeschooled her four children, Michael (1998), Katie (2000), Christopher (2003), and Stephen (2003). Since 2014, she has taught high school English to students in their homeschool cooperative. In 2015, Kristy earned her associates degree in English at Northampton Community College. Kristy worked as a temporary administrative assistant for her church, Ebenezer Bible Fellowship, during the summer of 2017. When her temporary position ended in the fall, Kristy began working for RUF. As the RUF Northeast Office Assistant, Kristy’s responsibilities include responding to emails, returning phone calls, managing parts of the website, bookkeeping, and assisting with the production of the newsletter. She loves spending time with her family, crocheting, cross-stitching, baking, reading, and gardening.
kristy.hard@ruf.org