Tabor student selected for MCC board

"I like being on a board that represents a lot of cultures."
"I like being on a board that represents a lot of cultures."
Sierra Sanchez was born and raised in Thailand, and has traveled to 17 countries and speaks three languages.

As the daughter of missionaries, her life has been full of unique experiences.

This year, Sanchez, a Tabor College junior, has been able to experience another opportunity by serving as the college’s student representative on the Men­nonite Central Committee Central States Board.

The opportunity arose when MCC Central States board members decided they wanted to incorporate more youth into their board, Sanchez said.

MCC Central States is one of several regional organizations under the umbrella of Mennonite Central Com­mittee, a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches that “shares God’s love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice,” according to mcc.org.

The regional board contacted the Men­nonite colleges in the area—Tabor, Bethel and Hess­ton—and asked professors to suggest a student representative to serve on the board.

Sanchez, who is studying English and secondary education at Tabor, was nominated by her English professor, Christopher Dick.

Sanchez went through an interview process before being offered a position on the board as Tabor’s representative.

So far, Sanchez has attended one board meeting, which took place in September. The next meeting will be Feb. 24-25.

During meetings, board members approve budgets and hear reports from people who have been working in the central states region and internationally, Sanchez said.

Even though she is a young member of the board, Sanchez said she feels her voice is heard.

“They do a lot of going around the circle and everyone has to share,” she said. “They do want quieter people to have a chance. I really like that because it gives me the opportunity to say something.”

Sanchez said she has enjoyed the diversity on the board.

“I’ve heard a lot of negative stats about boards being mainly Caucasian and male,” she said. “But this board is pretty much split evenly female and male, and there were more people of color than there were Caucasian people. I like being on a board that represents a lot of cultures.”

Deborah Penner, San­chez’s English professor and adviser, said she believes Sanchez’s heart for international ministry makes her a good fit for the MCC board.

“(The board) is a good place for her to direct some of her energies,” Penner said. “Sierra has a really strong commitment to Christ and she is a person who likes to put feet to her faith.”

Once she graduates in spring 2018, Sanchez said she hopes to use her degree to teach overseas, especially in more restricted areas.

“In places like the Middle East, a teaching license can open doors that other careers don’t have allowance with,” she said. “I want to teach English to non-native speakers because that opens up a lot of opportunities for them.”

Penner said she thinks it is important for Tabor faculty members to encourage their students to find their place in the church and church organizations.

“Even if you’re a young person, you can contribute so much,” Penner said.

Bailey Kaufman, a Hillsboro native and Tabor College senior, completed an internship with the Free Press during January.