Growing up immersed in the small, college-town life of Keene, TX, Deanna Camacho felt comfortable in her choice to attend Southwestern Adventist University. After all, that’s what her friends were doing. Yet, it would take a category 5 hurricane in a different country for her to realize that SWAU was more than just a comfortable choice. For Camacho, the decision to study at SWAU was an active choice to follow God’s calling in her life.
Spending her childhood in Keene made the town a familiar home. When it came time to attend college, she followed her friends and decided to stay local, pursuing a nursing degree at SWAU in 2013. At the time, all Camacho cared about was “having fun and living the college life.”
Yet, after a few semesters, things didn’t feel right to Camacho. At that time, she believed it was in her best interest to live in Puerto Rico with her grandfather and continue to pursue her nursing education there.
Little did she realize, a move to Puerto Rico could not have come at a more dangerous time. In 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, destroying the island and leaving Camacho, along with many others, heartbroken. “I wouldn’t have lived if it wasn’t for God’s protection,” she says.
Not having a choice due to the unfortunate storm, Camacho moved back to Keene in 2018, and felt she needed to change her path in life. Returning to SWAU, Camacho knew she wanted things to be different. This time, she chose to come back for herself, starting a new degree in Radio-TV-Film. Coming back, she says “If God wasn’t in control of my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
After arriving back on campus, Mike Agee, Chair of the Department of Communication, showed Camacho the cameras and computer equipment, then told her a little more about the program. She fell in love and knew communication is what she wanted to pursue.
At the same time, Camacho juggled three different jobs working in the Department of Marketing & PR, the Business Office and at the local 360 Degree Restaurant & Lounge. She also got involved with and got to know the members of Spiritual Life and Development (SLAD) very well, where she learned more about what it means to be a student missionary.
One day while working in the Business Office, Camacho overheard a gentleman talking with other students about sending student missionaries to teach overseas in South Korea. “I had no idea you could teach oversees without any background in Education,” Camacho says.
After considering the opportunity, she turned to God in prayer and decided to explore it more with information from Student Missions. “If God didn’t open the door, then it wouldn’t have been opened” she explains.
After a couple of weeks, COVID-19 hit the United States and threw this decision up in the air. After prayers of consideration, learning more and exploring different options, Camacho felt that God was still calling her overseas to reach out of her comfort zone and teach, despite the pandemic.
Camacho graduated from Southwestern Adventist University in August of 2020, with her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication with an emphasis in Radio-TV-Film. Soon after graduation, Camacho packed her bags and left to follow God’s calling in Korea where she currently teaches kindergarten.
Camacho serves as an English teacher for a new school in a small town. During her time serving, she has found a fascination in her children being able to learn a new language so quickly. Most, if not all her students do not come from a Seventh-day Adventist home. “It amazes me that I am able to teach them without an education background. Being able to teach them about God means the world to me, and them wanting to know more keeps me going, ” she states.
While being overseas has been an incredible experience for Camacho, she says, “something I miss most about home is vespers and being in a space praising and worshiping with other people.” Due to COVID-19 the churches in South Korea have limited space, so Camacho has had to be creative. Between her co-workers and director, they have held their own small church service every Saturday morning together where they each take turns teaching the lesson and organizing their time together with God.
Through this experience, Camacho has been able to gain a strong relationship with God, a better understanding of the workplace and has learned how to connect and network with people. “Every experience is different, but it was perfect timing for me. If this path didn’t open for me, I have no clue where I’d be,” she says.
Camacho strongly believes that graduating and then going overseas worked out best for her. She says, “it would have been harder to come sooner and have to go back and finish school.”
With her contract coming to an end this coming October, Camacho may choose to extend until December. When she returns, she plans to use the knowledge and passion she has gained as a student missionary to work hard and serve her community, and hopefully one day own a film studio of her own.
Going through a major storm, pursuing God at SWAU & as a student missionary and taking this leap of faith of moving to another country has put much in perspective for Camacho. She has seen God moving her throughout her everyday journey as she steps out of her comfort zone and continues to lean on Him.
To learn about how SWAU integrates service across the learning experience, visit swau.edu/slad.