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Our Speech Is Part Of Our Witness   By Mike Vincent, Ministry Fellow at CU Nova Do not grumble...
June 15, 2022

Reflections from a Christian Union Nova Leader

By Leah Smith, Princeton ’22


As a recent alumna of Princeton University, I have a lot to reflect on. These past four years have been quite a ride, and I can confidently say that my identity in God has been strengthened so much. Through seeking Him, I’ve gained a stronger sense of purpose and grown a softer and kinder heart in loving others. CU Nova was the one organization on campus that I considered my family, complete with close brothers and sisters in Christ, adult leaders who’ve acted as mothers, and father figures whose wisdom I could glean from. These are the people whose weddings I hope to be in and who I will be visiting with during the classic Princeton University Reunions.

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The times I’ve served through CU Nova have also been enriching; starting as a pianist and vocalist on the worship team, leading the worship and prayer teams, leading zoom prayer calls across multiple campuses, and eventually becoming the Seeking God Team student executive director. I’ve learned that ministry isn’t a “vocation,” but more of a mindset and lifestyle. Serving God and seeking Him require a heart posture and a desire to live like Christ. I am certain, that even as I advance into professional settings, whatever I do will be for Christ—loving people, working with integrity, speaking words of truth, and being unashamed of the gospel.

God has also taught me so much about loving Him and loving myself through the simple act of loving others. These four years have flown by, and it was tough. Starting as a freshman student from a rural town in Alaska was a bit of a culture shock, especially with the rigorous academia and quite different social environment. Then transitioning into online school was also a struggle that persisted for a year and a half. Being back on campus this year was completely different because of COVID protocols, construction, but mostly because my identities and priorities have radically changed since I was a freshman. 

In John 21:15-25, Jesus asks Peter three times whether he loves him, and then commands Peter each time to feed His sheep. Each time Peter says, “yes Lord.” I am inspired by that text and try to live by it. A lot of being a student executive with Nova was behinds-the-scenes work. This developed my new favorite way to spend free time, hosting prayer in my room or sharing heartfelt conversations with someone and using pieces of my testimony as encouragement. 

CU Nova experienced staff shortages throughout the pandemic and also this year, meaning the student executive director position took on much more responsibility than in the past. Thankfully, I feel like the ministry gave back to me in spiritual joy and wisdom twofold what I’ve given in time and energy. Overall, Princeton has transformed me and strengthened my walk with God. What a gift it is to live a life of love and spiritual freedom.

At Princeton, Leah M. Smith majored Evolutionary Biology, studying genetics and perceived stress HPA axis modifications affecting health outcomes. She also earned a certificate minor in Global Health and Public Policy and has completed pre-med course work. Hailing from Palmer, Alaska, Leah is excited at the prospect of living in New York City this coming year, pursing a pathway in her career to medicine and public health.

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