Jonathan Bell  |  June 27, 2019

This Q&A is part of a series of interviews featuring RUF Alumni. 

Let's start off with who are you and what do you do?

My name is Jonathan Bell. I currently serve as a research project coordinator at the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. As a research coordinator, I help implement the projects and interventions my research team has developed. My team specifically focuses on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment among various minority populations in North Carolina. Being in this position has truly opened my eyes to the many issues that are still present with how our society talks about HIV/AIDS, as well humbled me to be able work with patients and community members living with HIV by hearing their stories.

What college did you graduate from?

In 2017 I graduated from Appalachian State University (GO 'Neers!) in Boone, NC, a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I was a part of RUF for almost my entire college experience at App State RUF and had many opportunities to serve, travel, and grow from my time in this organization. While in college, and even still today, the community I made through RUF remains such a cornerstone in my life.

Who was your campus minister when you attended RUF?

Chris Horne was my campus minister all 4 years of undergrad for me. My freshman year was his first year on staff at App State.

What is your favorite memory from RUF?

My favorite memory from RUF would have to be our Annual Sadie Hawkins Dances. Not sure if there was something in the water in Boone, but App State people generally love to dance and we take dance parties very seriously. Our Sadie Hawkins Dances, which started my freshman year, were always a blast and something to look forward to. The event wasn't just for RUF students either, anyone was welcome and it was always exciting to meet new people there who had never been to RUF before. I have so many fun memories from helping plan and set up for the event, hearing about who all was going with who, and dancing all night with my friends.

How has RUF impacted how you approach your career? 

While my job is not ministry or religion-based at all, I do believe that RUF has somewhat shaped how I approach my career. Being a Christian in a scientific and academic world can be quite a challenge, but I would say that RUF helped ground me with an understanding of how the Lord is present in every type of work as long as it's committed to Him. Regardless of if our work is directly for the church or not, RUF taught me that our work and careers can still be meaningful to the the mission of the Gospel even if it's not readily apparent or obvious. 

What would you say to an incoming freshman?

I would say to an incoming freshman, that during your time in college, you are going to change and realize more about yourself than you could ever have thought. While that happens over the course of 4 or more years, it's important to have a group of people that will be with you through these changes and realizations. It's so incredibly vital that you find a community of people that will support you and love you through it all. Maybe that community can be found in RUF for you, so give it a try! If it's not the place for you, then keep searching. I was a campus tour guide for Appalachian and I always told my prospective students that it's ok if App isn't your home, but if it's not, find a home somewhere else that you can feel safe and at ease, and I think this could be applied to RUF and campus ministries as well.