Meet the amazing Blue Ridge Fellows
Class of 2015-2016:


Lea Parker, Zeeland, MI
Harvard University: Psychology
Host Family: Brad & Christine Broughton
Job Host: Carilion Clinic, Care Management Dept.
Mentor: Cristiane Meyers

While at Harvard, Lea spent most of her time with Harvard College Faith and Action, a Christian Union fellowship. She co-lead the Leadership Lecture Series team for 2 years and began an inter-fellowship unity team, bringing together leaders from each of the different Christian fellowships on campus. She also invested time as a member of Kuumba, a choir celebrating black creativity and spirituality. Lea is currently living in Seattle, WA and doing research with a study that is looking at the integration of mental health care into acute trauma care. Her plan is to do research for a few years before pursuing a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Ultimately she desires to provide mental health services from a biopsychosocial perspective to underserved populations that have experienced traumatic events. She also loves hiking, reading news articles, having heated discussions and is seriously thinking about another tattoo.

Jessica Gil, North Plainfield, NJ
Harvard University: Romance Languages and Literatures
Host Family: Jeff & Kathy Austin
Job Host: Carilion Clinic, Care Management Dept.
Mentor: Tonja Weed

Jessica was born in Colombia, South America and resided there for the first seven years of her life. She later moved to New Jersey where she now calls home. While in college, Jessica was involved with Christian Union’s Harvard College Faith and Action and volunteered with PBHA- a public service and social action organization that serves the Greater Boston area. Jessica greatly enjoys reading, studying cultures and learning foreign languages. She traveled abroad to study French language and literature in Paris, and later interned for the French Consulate in Boston. Jessica is passionate about living missionally for Christ and discovering what that looks like in all walks of life. She is currently back home in New Jersey working and preparing to begin the graduate school chapter of her life. She would like to work counseling families and children and thus plans to obtain her license as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She hopes to author a book someday.  

Katherine Gunning, Marietta, GA
Appalachian State University: Child Development
HostFamily: John & Martha Furman
Job Host: Carilion Clinic, Emergency Dept.
Mentor: Kim Motley

Katherine is a graduate of Appalachian State University, where she was overjoyed to call the mountains home. She majored in Child Development, and spent most of her free time serving with Cru through their Gospel in Action team, and as a Community Group Leader. Her heart for Jesus and for adventure has led her to various locations across the country to love teenagers and lead staff teams through the ministry of Student Life and Generate Camps, and across the ocean to Kenya where she lived with the world’s most incredible children in foster care. Katherine is also a photographer, and loves capturing compelling stories of joy and resilience. She most recently moved to Texas to pursue a Master's degree in Christian Education through Dallas Theological Seminary, and she hopes to live out her life exploring the globe, caring for children, and serving the church through teaching and creative ministry.

Nathan Abir, Newtown, PA
Penn State University: Security and Risk Analysis: Information & Cyber-security
Host Family: Quigg & Annette Lawrence
Job Host: Corvesta, Security Team
Mentor: Pete Lustig

Nathan grew up in Bucks County Pennsylvania and attended Penn State University. While he was at Penn State, Nathan was involved in Campus Crusade (Cru) for all 4 years. He was involved with a Bible study and led a Bible study during his junior year. He enjoys reading, sports, watching TV and movies, listening to music and playing video games. His favorite book genre is fantasy and his favorite author is Brent Weeks. After he completed the Fellows program, Nathan began a job with a company in Philadelphia as an Information Security Analyst working as a part of that company’s Network and Security team.

Tim Higgins, Clarksville, MD
University of Maryland: Physiology and Neurobiology
Host Family: Trent & Jennifer Fischer
Job Host: Carilion, Emergency Dept.
Mentor: Dan Bubar

Tim is a proud Terp, and loves the University of Maryland. He was very involved in Cru at Maryland. During Tim’s sophomore year he led the Community Team for Cru and then lead a Bible study during his junior and senior year. Tim also mentored 2 students during his last two years of school. Tim is very passionate about working with children who’ve been orphaned. He has spent the last two summers working in Latvia at a camp that serves teens who’ve been orphaned or removed from their homes. He misses them all already! Tim is living in Roanoke working full time as an ER scribe at Carilion.  He is in the process of applying/interviewing at different PA programs, and plans to begin school again next fall.  Additionally, he is in the process of starting a brand new Young Life at Glenvar High School (right outside of Salem).  Tim would love to return to Latvia this upcoming summer (for year four!) and eagerly anticipates seeing where God will take him next in his journey!

Philip Vivirito, Manassas, VA
Christopher Newport University: Philosophy & Religious Studies: Pre-Seminary
Host Family: David Hankins
Job Host: Church of the Holy Spirit
Mentor: Adam Mosley

While at CNU Philip was very involved with Campus Crusade for Christ and CNU’ s Ultimate Frisbee team. While in Cru Philip had the opportunity to serve as a bible study leader for three years, and speak at the weekly gatherings. Philip was the founding Vice-President of CNU’s ultimate frisbee team, and loved playing ultimate for two years while attending CNU. Philip also had the opportunity to serve as a youth-intern for two years at a local church while attending CNU. Philip is passionate about talking and playing sports, drinking coffee with other people, and teaching about Jesus. Philip doesn’t mind speaking in public and actually loves to be able to preach. Philip’s goals after Roanoke are to serve somewhere as a youth pastor, become a published author, and someday hold a Ph.D. in systematic Theology. Philip moved back home and recently has joined the staff of Lake Ridge Baptist Church to serve as their youth director. He is enthusiastic to minister to students in the same area he grew up in, and continues to run, play frisbee, and drink coffee.