It was traveling around the world that inspired Ada Stoltzfus to expand her horizons through the resource in her own backyard.
Ada, the youngest of nine children, attended a one-room schoolhouse in Morgantown up until 8th grade. She then spent her time working on her family's farm and traveling – extensively.
Most recently, Ada spent four months studying as a Bible Scholar in Thailand. She studied in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and noted that the people were reserved and had deep traditions such as removing your shoes before entering a home. She was one of 30 U.S. students selected for the program, which was taught by four instructors as well as some guest lecturers.
"We studied a lot of Scripture, discussed world views and different religions," said Ada, who learned about the program from friends. "We had four classes a day. We also took mission trips to Cambodia and India as part of the program."
In India, Ada's group taught English classes during their week-and-a-half visit. In Cambodia, they hosted Bible classes with children and visited with older residents in one of the villages.
When she returned from that trip, she decided she wanted to pursue a nursing education. She started with free classes at the Berks County Intermediate Unit to help prepare her for the GED test, which she passed here at RACC in the spring of 2012. That summer, she enrolled for her first classes and is hoping to finish her nursing pre-requisites by fall of 2014.
College-level classes were a major change for Ada compared to the classes at the IU. "It is hard work and I spend hours studying, but the instructors are very helpful," she said.
Adjunct instructor Dan Glass taught Ada in his English Composition class and said, "Ada is very bright and very driven. She consistently challenged herself to write and research into how social networking adversely affects the psychological and educational lives of young children. Ada's paper was three to four times as long as the average 'acceptable' paper since she chose to do this assignment for honors credit, which I happily awarded to her."
Ada first started traveling when she was 21, making mission trips to visit friends in the Dominican Republic and Paraguay with local churches. She then spent about 18 months living in Haiti. "I lived at an orphanage and worked as a kind of nanny to the children. I took some Creole classes, but just the repeated interaction helped me better learn to communicate," she said.
With her traveling behind her for now, Ada works as a Certified Nurse Assistant, which fuels her desire to finish a nursing degree. "Seeing all the needs that people have, it's just my personality that I like to care for people. Because of Jesus' love in my heart, I find it enjoyable to help those who are in pain," she said.