Esther Pruitt

HESD Student Spotlights Support for Refugee Students, Heads to Serve Overseas  

Esther Pruitt (’23) prioritized learning about international higher education during her time at Wheaton College. Previously, as an undergraduate student at Covenant College, she was struck by Professor Steve Corbett’s illustration of God as a diamond - the idea that we may see God from a particular angle, but as we engage with others from different cultural backgrounds, we have a richer understanding of Imago Dei and the Triune God. After meeting with the HESD Program Director, Dr. Olga Dietlin, she learned of an opportunity to serve as a Summer Residence Director at LCC International University (formerly Lithuania Christian College) in Northern Europe, which she chose to pursue.

LCC International University aspires to be “the leading Christian liberal arts university in Europe, renowned for its flourishing academic community, spiritual vitality, and global impact” (LCC website). As a part of its mission, LCC aims to offer holistic support for students from refugee backgrounds. Its renowned Middle East Scholars Program provides a pathway for war-affected individuals to pursue a college degree. And its support of Ukrainian students and alums is an example of a faithful response Esther decided to document in her thesis titled Higher Education Institutions as an Agent for International Justice, along with the best practices found at another European institution - Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Poland.

In March 2023, Esther and Dr. Dietlin (who is a native of Ukraine) presented their research findings at the International Symposium held in conjunction with the annual conference of NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, in Boston, MA. Esther’s experience at LCC complemented her training in the HESD Program and her graduate assistantship in Residence Life, equipping her well for the next appointment after graduation in May. Esther will serve college students in the international context – as a resident director for Living and Learning International in Quito, Ecuador.