Response Magazine | Student Life

Megan Swanson Chao

Megan Swanson ChaoU.S. Executive Director and Co-Founder of Hope for Life Ministry

Shoreline, Washington

Psychology major, Global and Urban Ministry minor 2009

As the U.S. executive director and co-founder of Hope for Life Ministry, Chao directs the U.S. side of the organization that includes fundraising, donor relations, events, and strategic planning. Outside of work, she spends a lot of time at Quest Church, where she co-leads their prayer ministry.

How does your time at SPU connect to the work you’re doing today?

I both received my calling and was equipped for it at SPU. When I found out that cross-cultural ministry and indigenous leadership development was actually much harder and complicated than I anticipated, the community I formed at SPU remained a source of regular support, encouragement, and hope.

Who made a difference in your SPU education?

Two people come to mind — Dr. Rod Stiling and Dr. Delia Nuesch-Olver. It was because of meeting Dr. Nuesch Olver and sitting in on her Introduction to Global and Urban Ministry course that I decided to come to SPU. As a student, she not only taught our courses, but modeled with her life what she was teaching.

I had Dr. Stiling for UCOR 3000 and from the moment I met him, I knew that he cared about his students not simply in his classroom, but outside of it as well. In college, I was very shy around professors and didn’t speak much in class. He made me feel welcome, seen, and appreciated in a way that no other professor did. When I started Hope for Life as a senior, even though I was no longer in his class, he encouraged and prayed for me regularly, and even became a donor to the ministry. To this day, eight years later, he and his wife still remain partners of Hope for Life.

What advice do you have for students about life after graduation?

You’re not done yet. Your classroom is simply larger now. Be open to continue learning, even from life’s unexpected teachers. Be humble, teachable, and steadfast.


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