Becca Palmer is originally from Springfield, Illinois, but has lived in Anderson since she came to AU for college. She is now the director of spiritual formation and oversees chapel worship, female and male discipleship coordinators and campus ministries.
What initially led you here to AU?
When I started looking for colleges, my Bible study leader at the time told me that if she could do it all over again, she would have gone to AU. I had never heard of it, but she told me all about the good music program they had because I wanted to major in music, and that it was a Christian university, and that was a dynamic I hadn’t looked at.
I came to school here, and I loved it. I met wonderful friends and got involved. I met my husband Trent here, and I graduated, went away for a year and then came back, and I have been working here since 2008. I love this place. I love the people here. I believe in this place. People truly love and pray and care for these students.
How did your faith influence your passions?
We went to church all the time growing up, and I became passionate about church music when there was kind of some tension between changing from the traditional hymns into a praise band, and I just saw how that can sort of tear apart people and make them feel like they’re not wanted. I felt like worship should be something that unites us and is reflective of everybody and that everyone had a part in, so I just got passionate about wanting to be involved in that sort of ministry and environment.
I thought that maybe I would do something in the church with organizing and coordinating—I loved that sort of thing—and when I was a student here, I was able to be the Vision Revision Coordinator. I loved the creativeness, thinking outside of the box, involving so many people and letting them know that what they did was awesome and so special. It was a beautiful way to worship God. I like to be creative and see all the different ways we can worship, and each of us has a different reflection to bring.
Did you ever think that you would end up living in Anderson?
No, I never did. It seems really exciting and awesome, you know, people who are missionaries in exotic locations and countries, and sometimes you’re just overlooked if you feel like you’re called to the simple. But I feel like I really have felt called to this place and to this population. I love the city of Anderson. What we’ve been able to get to know here, we love. We want to see it continue to grow and be restored. It’s been great to get to know the city and the neighbors. There are just good people here, good hearts, and I believe in Anderson and what it can be and continue to be.
Would you say that you felt “called” here even during college?
It was a total process, and a lot of the times I feel called as I go. I just started listening to and being aware of the things that I was really passionate about. Sometimes I would get distracted and be like, “God, where is this neon sign where you are going to tell me what to do?” And it never really happens like that, but when I started to realize the areas I got really excited about, I asked myself what I wanted to learn about, what I wanted to spend my time doing, what I was good at, what gave me life, and I started seeing where those things intersected in the community and in the world. That kind of helped me find where I wanted to be.
I was a resident assistant when I was a student, and in those opportunities I realized I loved building community and connecting with other people and encouraging them. I think that’s a need here. Students need that in this process, and so that’s when I started thinking about student life. I wanted to be a resident director when I was a student, and then I met Trent, and he wanted to be an RD, too. We ended up getting married a year after I graduated, and he got the position before I had even applied because he was a little older. That was a hard season, but at the same time I think God just knows even more than we know. Trent was an awesome RD, and it was so fun to kind of get to do that alongside of him a little bit. I got to work with the DCs so I didn’t have to actually be in the building, but I could still love on those girls. It just worked out well. God knew our skill sets and what we had to offer, and we were able to do that kind of side-by-side, which has been really cool.
It was a process of slowly evolving and seeing what would come next and having the courage to apply for those things that did get me excited, even if I was unsure or didn’t know exactly what it would look like. Maybe it was a little scarier in the unknown, but it has been so rewarding to know that God has met me every step of the way.
If you could give your college-self some advice, what would that be?
I think I would say be able to trust and not worry so much about what is coming, that every season will probably have some ups and downs, but there are really beautiful opportunities wherever you’re at. Don’t always look ahead wishing, hoping, worrying. Be able to just be present where you are and believe that there are opportunities right now that you’ll never have again. Throughout life—whatever those seasons look like—whether friends come in or go out or the jobs come in or go out, just be thankful and be present where you are. All we really have is this moment, you know? How are we faithful with what we have?
Never stop seeking. None of us have it together. We all get in ruts, and it’s hard, and sometimes we maybe don’t see God all the time, or we are overcome with other things. But don’t stop seeking Him. He is faithful. Even reading a verse or two or praying or stopping to ask for help, I think He wants nothing more than to just help us in that season. It might be slow and steady with a couple steps forward and a couple steps back, but don’t give up.
What about AU really stands out to you in a way that is different than other places?
I think what has always stood out to me about AU are the relationships. For me, as a student, a lot of the student life people really poured into my life and were mentors to me and really helped me develop, not only academically, but spiritually and holistically. It was so important in my faith journey and personal journey in recognizing God’s call in my life. I just think that it is so special that we get opportunities for those kinds of relationships here.
I am still so close with the friends I made in college. There is just something so special about this place and the people who really care for you and love you well. I think as a student, that’s what I really felt drawn to. I think that being able to come back and be that person for other people is what has drawn me here—just being able to love on students and to encourage them and walk alongside them while they’re here and discovering more about themselves and who God is.
I think Anderson has a really unique and beautiful population of students—there’s no one like AU students. It is maybe a little different than other Christian universities. I think there’s a little grit and realness, and I love that. We just have the best students ever. I have been changed and transformed by the awesome students I have gotten to know—just seeing how wise they are and what their passions are, how they’ve overcome hard situations. There is just something about this unique population of students that I absolutely love and feel drawn to.
I think God is absolutely still moving here on this campus, and sometimes it’s just in different ways than we think. Do I think God can move mountains and do all these amazing things? Absolutely. But I think He is also in the stillness. He is also in that quiet voice. As I have sat down with students, I see the need and importance of slowing down through the busyness and not letting that compete with what your heart and soul needs.
If anything, I want to celebrate the ways we are growing and transforming on this campus and encourage students to risk things a little bit. Let people know you. Let yourself be loved. Let yourself be heartbroken. Let yourself go through these seasons—if they’re hard or great—we are going to learn along the way, and I think the best thing we can do is love each other through that.