Newest Sullivan Scholar: Pray and wait

Often, that is how individuals cope with a challenge when they don’t see a clear path forward.

It can be difficult – this waiting for God’s direction. But leaning in to faith and trust during the wait can not only sustain, but empower.

Chelsea Thrift, a Campbell freshman and its newest Sullivan scholar, has used that simple-sounding method – to pray and wait – for as long as she can remember. It wasn’t a lesson she learned at home, or church or school. But since the age of 6 or 7, she says, she knew God was real. She “tried to be a good kid,” and she learned the art of patiently waiting.

Growing up amidst familial dysfunction and turbulence, Chelsea leaned on that early realization. Always a bright and eager pupil, Chelsea was reluctant to burden others with her plight. By her junior year in high school she was working 40-hour weeks for a local beekeeper who oversaw 4,000 hives. She learned things like how to extract honey, treat the hives for mites, and increase output.

Finally, in her junior year in high school, a caring teacher and a church community came together to intervene and help find Chelsea a foster family she now calls her own. The family “loved her out of her anger,” she says, and helped tear down the self-protective walls she had built.

What drives Chelsea now? To be the first in her family to attend and finish college. To be a role model to two younger sisters. Chelsea wants to use her experiences to create a mechanism for people in the community to donate basics – things we take for granted like food and shampoo. And, with a class in Homeland Security, one foot in ROTC, and dreams of travel, she aspires to one day work for the FBI or CIA.

In fall 2019, Chelsea attended the Sullivan Foundation retreat in Black Mountain. She and 10 other Campbell students rode to Black Mountain in a Campbell van driven by senior education major Raven Vaughn. All of them hit it off, she says, made a lot of connections and are still connecting, which helps to keep each other on track with their respective plans.

“Pray and wait. It may seem like it will never work,” Chelsea reflects. “I’m living proof that it will.”