Recent Alumni Recognition

Each year Columbia International University recognizes 12 recent alumni who have graduated within the last 12 years for their distinguished accomplishments in the marketplace, on the mission field or in church ministry. They are a faithful example of CIU’s five core values. These are: Authority of Scripture, the Necessity of the Spirit Filled Life, World Evangelization, Prayer and Faith, and Evangelical Unity.

Nominate recent alumni for honors

Jay Ezelle

2018- Jay Ezelle

Jay ministered as a youth pastor from 2007- 2013. Today he serves as a sheriff’s deputy in Pulaski, Virginia, where he received a Lifesaving Award in 2017. “Working in law enforcement, I’ve had more opportunities to grow relationships. Dealing with different people in different situations every day, I look for back-door approaches to speak truth into their lives, and I work hard to give people a positive outlook on law enforcement. Regardless of career or vocation, the Lord will use you to impact those around you." Full Interview

Daniel Stevanus

2018- Daniel Stevanus

Daniel serves as a middle school youth pastor at Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, South Carolina. After graduating from CIU, he served as a middle school youth pastor in Long Island, New York before moving back to South Carolina. He is a gifted teacher, preacher, and recently became cancer free after being diagnosed in 2016. Daniel also serves on CIU’s Recent Alumni Committee. Full Interview

Kelly Helms

2018- Kelly Helms

Kelly helps direct the iEDGE program with Navigators. iEDGE is a two-year gap program for recent college graduates, providing training and opportunity that connects them with Navigators' long-term partners overseas. She is responsible for recruiting, vetting, shepherding, training care assessment, and mobilizing the teams. Kelly’s husband, Joel, passed away suddenly in 2016. She has a two-and-a-half-year-old son named Gabe. Full Interview

Charles “Red” Caraway & Adam Green

2018- Charles “Red” Caraway & Adam Green

Charles and Adam are graduates of the CIU Prison Initiative program. Though still incarcerated, both men prayerfully and courageously volunteered to be transferred to the Alabama Department of Corrections last spring to assist in the start of a program similar to the CIU Prison Initiative administrated by Birmingham Theological Seminary. Their efforts have in-part led to the salvation of over 10,000 inmates in the South Carolina Department of Corrections since 2007. Caraway Interview, Green Interview

Brandon Mason

2018- Brandon Mason

After graduating from CIU, Brandon began serving at Milton Hershey School (MHS) in Hershey, Pennsylvania. MHS is a cost-free, private, coeducation home serving more than 2,000 students from low-income families. Brandon’s first five years at MHS were in the Transitional Living Program teaching 15 to 20 high school males independent living skills. He was promoted in 2014 to the position of senior division home-life administrator. Today Brandon is responsible for overseeing eight student homes, 20 house parents and over 100 students in grades 9-11. Full Interview

Abeneazer Urga & Jessica Udall

2018- Abeneazer Urga & Jessica Udall

After graduating from CIU, Abeneazer and Jessica ministered among East African Muslim refugees in Portland, Maine for year, and since have been teaching at the Evangelical Theological College (ETC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. They have authored several books and continue to write on theology, biblical studies, missions, and cross-cultural ministry. Abeneazer is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Biblical Studies. Jessie is working in the Communications Department of their mission agency and writing on how to welcome immigrants at lovingthestrangerblog.comFull Interview.

2017- Nathan Aylestock

Nathan graduated in 2007 with a bachelors degree in Youth Ministry and a master’s degree with a focus on education and counseling. He teaches Bible at Westminster Catawba Christian School in Rock Hill, South Carolina.


“There are times when it’s hard, but there are so many beautiful times I just know I’m at the center of His will. I get to spend every day teaching God’s word, and it is so good and so fun.”

2017- Sarah Bedi

Sarah graduated in 2009 with a Master of Divinity degree. She lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where she ministers to unreached people groups and immigrants, while working with local churches to train leaders for new church plants.


“I am absolutely convinced that this is where God desires to use me. It is amazing to be part of a bigger vision: Seeing the Swedes engage in finishing the Great Commission.”



2017- Vanessa Torres

Vanessa graduated in 2006 with a Master of Arts in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). She teaches Spanish at Nursery Road Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina, and is a

2017 Milken Educator Award recipient, honoring top educators around the country (see page 8).


“I want to give my students a love for the language and the culture. The love of God is a heart for all cultures. We need to love the people that are here with us, and learn to appreciate the diversity they bring to us.”

2017- Frew Tamrat

Frew graduated in 2013 with his Ph.D., and today serves as the vice president for academic affairs at Evangelical Theological College in Ethiopia.

“Like the apostle Paul who passed on to his spiritual son Timothy what he received from the Lord, I feel honored by being able to pass on what the Lord has entrusted to me to the next generation and see its fruit in my lifetime.”

2017- Dawn Baker

Dawn graduated in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. She teaches second to fifth graders who are deaf or have hearing difficulties at Mary McArthur Elementary School in Fayetteville, North Carolina.


“It is very exciting to have kids come to my class with a huge deficit in their receptive and expressive language skills, leave my class ready for regular education classes either with some

support or completely independent, and a new confidence in who they are and

who they were created to be.

2017- Jonathan Oh

Jonathan graduated in 2015 with a Master of Divinity in Academic Ministries. He lives and works in Tokyo, Japan as a meteorologist for NHK, Japan Broadcasting Corporation. Jonathan also serves as a teaching elder with the Korean Southeastern Presbyterian Church.


“I was reading an article in Operation World that said less than one percent of Japanese believe in Christ. That’s the second most unreached people group in the world. At that time I knew that God had called me to Japan.”