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Sheri Casali, a new Christian Union ministry fellow, is especially passionate about discipleship. As the fall...
July 28, 2021

CU Nova Hosts Alumni Panel

By Kelly Parks, Staff Writer

The mission of Christian Union is to connect and develop Christian leaders to create a spiritually vibrant nation marked by Christian values permeating every corner of society. One of the main methods through which Christian Union strives to accomplish this goal is by ministering to Christian students at some of the nation's most influential universities to boldly live out their faith in whichever career path they pursue post-graduation.


PRINCETON, NJ -31 MAY 2019- View of the Princeton 2019 Reunions, a massive gathering of alumni on the Princeton University Campus in Princeton, New Jersey.

CU Nova (formerly called Princeton Faith and Action), Christian Union's ministry at Princeton, has done just that. This spring, the CU Nova alumni panel hosted a series of talks on how to live out one's faith in a given profession. The series was organized into sessions on careers in medicine, business, and law. 


Each session featured a panel of Princeton alumni, some of whom were involved in Christian Union during their time as undergraduates and all of whom currently follow Christ. After the panelists introduced themselves, the host and students in attendance had the opportunity to pose questions regarding the integration of faith and vocation. 


Ming Wilson, Princeton ’18, has been a member of the CU Nova alumni board since graduating. According to Wilson, the inspiration for this series came from a conversation he had with the CU student leadership team at Princeton. “I had asked the team what we as the alumni board could do to help fill in the leadership gaps caused by COVID-19. The answer they gave centered around a desire for vocational support and spiritual mentorship from the alumni community.” Given that a number of ministry faculty had to be released due to budget cuts caused by the pandemic, the student leadership team recognized the need for Christian role models and teachers within the CU community.


Over the years, the number of Christians connected to Princeton has only continued to grow, thereby resulting in a robust network of alumni seeking to strengthen the believers at the university. Many of these alumni were involved in Christian Union during their undergraduate years and now seek to give back to the community that helped them navigate faith and academia at Princeton.


For Wilson, Christian Union played an important role in his post-college decisions. After taking a gap year, he was accepted to the Divinity School at Duke University, where he is currently finishing his second year in the Master of Divinity program, integrating theology and the arts. While at Princeton, Wilson was a music major with a focus on theory and composition. Initially, he had a difficult time seeing how his faith and musical interests could intersect. “Christian Union was truly providential in terms of providing a Ministry Fellow, Kevin Antlitz, who encouraged me to see music’s own capacity for reflecting God’s glory in creation,” said Wilson.

Throughout his conversations with Antlitz, Wilson eventually began to see how the aesthetics of major composers like Bach, Messiaen, and Arvo Part were influenced by their Christian faith. These discoveries eventually culminated in Wilson's own thesis composition, which set three of the Psalms to original music influenced by the three composers' works and his Chinese heritage. Wilson’s hope is that like the insights he gleaned during his time at Princeton, these panels have also helped inform current students not just what it means to be a Christian while doing their work, but also what it means for their work to participate in God's redemptive plan for all creation. 


Annie Xie, Princeton ’20, recently joined the CU Nova alumni board upon graduation. She currently works as an aerospace and defense consultant for a branch of PwC’s network, Strategy&, where she models the cost of fighter jets. When asked what she hoped undergraduates gained from the three-part series, Xie replied: “I hope students take away the humility, generosity, and courage that the panelists exhibited. They view their time, talents, and treasure truly as gifts to be used for service rather than things to hoard or take pride in. They view every opportunity as a ministry opportunity, in simple but bold ways, such as asking clients how they can pray for them. They approach their work with the mindset of glorifying God, and they do it with excellence and integrity.”


Chandler Cleveland, Princeton ’18, currently serves on the CU Nova alumni board and was also one of the panelists surveyed during the session covering law. When asked about his reasons for joining the alumni board, Cleveland replied: “As one who was heavily involved with Christian Union as a student, having attended a couple of Nexus conferences, regularly participating in Bible courses, and leading the worship team, I wanted to see what is the largest Christian ministry on campus continue to thrive and provide Princeton students with opportunities for growth in Christian spirituality and leadership. As a Princeton alumnus and one who has reaped the benefits of a well-supported ministry, I felt it would be God-honoring to work with the alumni board to support the campus ministry and, just as importantly, to help Princeton Christian alumni of all ages connect and fellowship with each other.”


Currently, Cleveland is completing his third and final year in law school as a JD candidate at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC. This summer, Cleveland will be working as a Summer Associate at the law firm Reed Smith in Pittsburgh and expects to join the firm as an associate following his graduation in 2022. 


According to Cleveland, “law needs to be filled with men and women of integrity who are motivated by something greater than wealth, prestige, and power. As Christians, we are called to ‘seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause’ (Isaiah 1:17). Practicing law is an avenue to doing this servant work directly and to influencing the law for the betterment of society. Believers in the legal field may become prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, and government counsel, all of whom do work that very tangibly changes lives.”


It is the prayer and hope of Christian Union that alumni such as Cleveland, Xie, and Wilson will continue to spur on undergraduates as they continue to pursue their vocations. “Our goal,” said Wilson, “is to connect more students and alumni to encourage and build up the body of Christ.”

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