Caring Heart Award Winners for 2018

Thirteen Northwest academy students were each recipients of the $500 Caring Heart Award scholarship made possible through three-way funding from the North Pacific Union Conference, local conferences and academies. Students were selected by their schools for exemplifying the spirit of the Caring Heart — a willingness to serve others. The North American Division provided each student with a plaque and an engraved Bible. The scholarships may be used toward tuition at an Adventist school or on a short-term mission trip.


Magnifique Niyonizeye

Auburn Adventist Academy

Auburn, Washington

If you’ve been privileged enough to visit Auburn Adventist Academy (AAA) for any length of time this school year, you know the joy it is to be around Magnifique. She is the kind of student everyone wants in class, the kind of girl everyone wants as a friend and the kind of person everyone wants on their team. God created her with a heart driven to serve and care for others to such a degree she sometimes forgets to care for herself.

Magnifique is currently a junior at AAA, and, although this is only her second year, she has had a profound impact on the culture of our school. She played basketball each year, and her work ethic shined on the court as she pushed herself and encouraged her teammates through both wins and losses.

This year Magnifique was voted associated student body spiritual vice president, and she is a member of the campus ministries team. These two responsibilities have provided her with the opportunity to speak for numerous events, including preaching on Sabbath for church. Magnifique is a dynamic, natural speaker able to engage her audience and keep them interested in what she has to say.

Never one to let a challenge stop her, Magnifique saw an opportunity that was not being filled and stepped in to make a change when she started what is now called Project Unity. Thanks to her creative mind and willingness to be the change instead of complaining for change, she was able to begin a project at AAA to promote unity through the celebration of the diversity that blesses the campus. Although the project started just this year, it is growing.

Magnifique is working hard to bring up the future leaders, mentoring them and equipping them to carry on after she graduates. Project Unity seeks to unite everyone at the foot of the cross and open their eyes to the beauty that exists in God’s family. Magnifique is an excellent example of a life lived with this principle firmly rooted in her mind. She brings a smile, a listening and sympathetic ear, and a kind heart to anyone who needs it.


Stephanie Thomas

Columbia Adventist Academy

Battle Ground, Washington

For the last four years, no Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) mission trip has been complete without this CAA senior’s presence. In fact, the only way to prevent Stephanie Thomas from being present on a mission trip is to provide two at the same time in different locations. Mission trips, however, aren’t the beginning and end of this student’s heart for caring, as she loves to be involved in any community service, whether it’s teaching physical education to kindergarteners at Meadow Glade Adventist Elementary School, babysitting for someone needing help, volunteering her time for alumni weekends or scorekeeping for varsity sports teams.

Stephanie is caring, encouraging and empathetic, with a heart for the underdog. She is involved and hardworking, often doing things “behind the scenes” instead of in front where everyone is watching. While she loves people of all ages, she has a very special place in her heart for the little ones: babies, toddlers and kids.

Music is another area where Stephanie uses her gifts for others, especially through the hand bell choir. She not only enjoys bringing smiles to the faces and joy to the hearts of those who listen, but she has been a leader in recruiting classmates and making sure that the quality of the choir was such that it would indeed be a blessing to others.

As a missionary, her caring heart extends beyond the walls of CAA, but in her school's halls the love of God is shown daily in her consistency of character and spirituality. Her love for others goes beyond the physical and mental aspects and shows through her care for the spiritual health of those she comes in contact with. After four years of her involvement in leadership in her class and school, she will be greatly missed on the CAA campus and community, but her smile will go with her and brighten the world wherever she is.


Ally Stonas

Cascade Christian Academy

Wenatchee, Washington

Ally Stonas graduated in June from Cascade Christian Academy (CCA) as a 12-year senior and the class valedictorian. She has been an exemplary student, kind friend and willing servant throughout her CCA years.

Ally has a strong citizenship and leadership record as she has held numerous offices for her senior class in high school as well as serving on the student association. She has been both junior and senior class president, and her willingness to serve in numerous and varied roles is an example to all.

Ally has been an integral team member on mission trips to Belize in 2016 and 2018. Her positive and can-do attitude in any capacity at the King’s Children Home orphanage is a strong example noticed by her peers and adults alike. Ally is also very active in the local Wenatchee Church, where she is always willing to contribute in song service, Sabbath morning church breakfast and children’s stories.

Cascade Christian Academy has been a better school because of Ally’s attitude, leadership and strong work ethic. We will miss her but know that she will continue her success and positive influence at Walla Walla University in the coming years.


Reuben Herbel

Gem State Adventist Academy

Caldwell, Idaho

Reuben Herbel, a junior at Gem State Adventist Academy (GSAA), is a young man of integrity and compassion — “never unkind to anyone,” states Geoff Starr, Bible teacher and GSAA pastor. He proves himself not only in the big things of life, but in the small things as well. He’s always ready to go that extra mile in all his endeavors and friendships.

Reuben’s the one who reaches out and includes all the new people. You can find him every morning in the hallway greeting the day in worship with his best friend. This has definitely set the tone of his everyday life.

Students and staff alike appreciate Reuben. He excels not only in his academic pursuits, but also in his commitment to the football and basketball teams. He is also a strong school leader, currently serving as student association social vice and as treasurer the previous year. Reuben has been diligent in celebrating all staff and student birthdays with personally signed cards and candy. Last year he also participated in a mission trip to Fiji.

Camp Ida-Haven in McCall, Idaho, welcomes his service during the summer months, and the Bible department enjoys his positive work ethic during the school year.

After GSAA Reuben plans to attend Walla Walla University and major in engineering. He will definitely leave a caring legacy for others to follow. 


Sarahi Franco-Godoy

Livingstone Adventist Academy

Salem, Oregon

Sarahi Franco-Godoy is a junior at Livingstone Adventist Academy (LAA) and a blessing at home, church and school. Sarahi is not typically one you will see leading out up front, but that does not mean that she does not lead or have a caring heart.

At home, she helps out around the house being a model older sister. At church, she can be found behind the scenes helping out where needed, like being a junior staff for Pathfinders or even occasionally doing special music up front. At school, Sarahi is a good role model of an upperclassman.

Sarahi has overcome some personal challenges that have shaped her into the caring young lady that she is. Though not necessarily seen up front, she is often behind the scenes supporting her class and schoolmates.

Her desire is to help people through a profession in the medical field. The LAA staff look forward to seeing her continue to grow in her relationship with Jesus and continue to be a blessing to others.


Justin Corral

Milo Adventist Academy

Days Creek, Oregon

Justin Corral’s enthusiasm for sharing the love of Jesus has been evident since he arrived on the campus of Milo Adventist Academy three years ago. He has led one of Milo’s praise teams, volunteered to serve on a mission trip to Dominican Republic, and participated in the Apostles Outreach team that travels to share Jesus at churches around the Oregon Conference.

Justin has held boys club, student association and class offices. He has consistently shown a Christ-like spirit in his participation in varsity sports and the music program.

During his junior and senior years, Justin has served as a student chaplain, preparing spiritual activities, providing peer counseling and working with Chad Reisig, Milo Academy Church pastor, to plan outreach activities for the student body.

Justin is the son of Hector and Elizabeth Corral of Chihuahua, Mexico. This fall Justin hopes to enroll in the pre-med program at Walla Walla University. He says he is attracted to medicine because of his interest in science and because “the heart of the career is serving and caring for others.”​


Samuel Quinn Schaffner

Mount Ellis Academy

Bozeman, Montana

Samuel brings a farm-boy work ethic mixed with a technical flare to Mount Ellis Academy (MEA). At a very young age Samuel got involved in sound ministry. That passion and a love of Jesus has led to some amazing upgrades to the sound and recording equipment at his school. The music rings clearer, and MEA church services are now streamed live online.

While serving as co-chaplain for the MEA associated student body, Samuel is also very involved in presenting opportunities for youth to meet Jesus. On any given Friday night you might hear balloons popping, feel the heat as students burn their worries and cares, or just hear voices praising Jesus during an extended afterglow service.

His heart is for service, and his passion is sound engineering. Thank you, Samuel, for the difference you make at Mount Ellis Academy.


Fernanda Sophia Rinza

Portland Adventist Academy

Portland, Oregon

Ask anyone who knows Fernanda Rinza, and they’ll tell you she sings like an angel. She has participated in every music class and club she can join at Portland Adventist Academy. Her talents have been frequently affirmed with awards and scholarships. She was even a featured musician at La Sierra University’s 2018 Promising Young Artist concert.

But there is so much more to Fernanda. “Her caring heart has been seen in consistent participation in all facets of Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) life and a willingness to go deeper than ordinarily expected,” says Monte Torkelsen, PAA chaplain.

In her involvement in athletics, international student mentorship club, campus ministries, mission trips and service projects, Fernanda uses each opportunity to be a friend. Her teachers say she is mature beyond her years and demonstrates what it means to be Christ-centered and character-driven.

Fernanda truly has a caring heart. She plans to attend La Sierra University with a major in vocal performance and a minor in psychology and to someday become a music therapist so she can support others in their recovery from psychological challenges. Until then, she uses her love of art and music as a way to extend God’s love to others.

Fernanda’s world is her mission field. She quietly advocates for others, reaches out to those in need, leads with a servant's heart and helps others rise. Fernanda is a forever friend.


Sarai Rojas

Puget Sound Adventist Academy

Kirkland, Washington

Sarai was selected for the Caring Heart Award by the Puget Sound Adventist Academy (PSAA) staff because of her exceptional, heartfelt leadership and dedication to others on campus. As the associated student body president this year and a National Honor Society member, Sarai, a senior, has actively engaged her fellow students in school community events, focusing on positivity and inclusion. Sarai takes the time to uplift her classmates on a daily basis and has ministered to them in several personal, powerful worship talks this year.

Some words and phrases that describe Sarai include awareness for the needs of others, honest, encouraging, hard-working, a team player and good-humored. These traits set her apart as a student who truly cares about her school and community. Sarai has made a noticeably constructive impact on PSAA and its students, and the school's staff know she will continue to do so wherever she goes. For these reasons, they are pleased to recognize Sarai Rojas as this year’s Caring Heart Award recipient.

Sarai’s parents are Orlando and Araceli Rojas. Sarai plans to study nursing at Walla Walla University.


Gabrielle Becraft

Rogue Valley Adventist Academy

Medford, Oregon

Gabrielle “Gaby” Becraft is the daughter of Rebeca Becraft and a member of the Central Point Church. She is a four-year senior at Rogue Valley Adventist Academy and has attended the elementary school off and on throughout her educational experience. As the oldest child in her family, with three much-younger brothers, she is devoted to caring for others.

Gaby worked hard to attend every mission trip during her high school. Most recently she served in Costa Rica, where she helped prepare the site at the Adventist university so they could expand their campus. She also helped students at the local Adventist high school learn and practice their conversational English.

The first thing everyone notices about Gaby is her warm smile. She exudes a confidence and strength that draws others to her. She is the true definition of “Caring Heart.”

Gaby plans to continue her education at Walla Walla University.


J.T. Slockbower

Skagit Adventist Academy

Burlington, Washington

Jonathan Thomas Slockbower, better known as J.T., has been a student at Skagit Adventist Academy (SAA) since kindergarten. It’s hard to imagine SAA without him! J.T. does well in his classes, but clearly his love is fixing things and helping others. When something breaks, it’s often said, “Where’s J.T.? I’ll bet he can fix it.” When he helps, it’s always with a smile, proving he truly is a servant leader.

Born and raised in the Skagit Valley by his parents, John and Holly Slockbower, J.T. was raised in a giving family and has learned the true meaning of service as demonstrated by participating in both mission trips offered during his high school years. The first was to Plummer, Idaho, where students helped build a church and ran a basketball camp for the Coeur D’Alene Tribe.

The most recent trip was to Puerto Rico to help clean up a summer camp and assist hurricane victims. At one of the projects, J.T. helped install a new roof on a home devastated by Hurricane Maria. The roof started a project that included many of the high school students taking shattered walls and re-creating a home.

J.T. enjoys anything mechanical. In the past he’s shown an interest in auto mechanics, machinery and welding. Most recently, though, he’s pursued a passion for large machinery (excavators, bulldozers, backhoes, etc.) and has a summer job lined up working with large machines. Eventually his dream is to own his own company.


Allyson L. Graybill

Upper Columbia Adventist Academy

Spangle, Washington

Allyson, like so many others, came to UCA her freshman year for a new start following some challenging life events. Though shy, she desires to live for Jesus and give her all for Christ. She is considerate, kind and generous and has an unquenchable love of animals, specifically sheep. She always looks for ways to bring people closer to Jesus and opens her room to those needing a friend to pray or study the Bible with and she is always willing to help out.

In helping her community, Allyson is one of the student leaders of UCA Cares, a ministry that goes into the community and assists with free health screenings. Her assistance has been a great blessing to the sponsors. Through this, Allyson has developed a passion for medical missionary work and plans to continue pursuing that after graduation: healing the body and spirit for Jesus.

While out with UCA Cares, Allyson had an experience that showed her God’s leading in an unexpected way. She met a man and felt she should give him a Bible the next time she went to the bus station. Someone gave her a Bible to give him, and she took it with her. She was watching for him and felt sure she would see him. A lady showed up instead, and Allyson thought about giving her the Bible. Still believing the Bible was for the man, Allyson didn't offer it to the woman.

Just before leaving the bus station, Allyson still hadn’t seen the man. The lady was not far away, so Allyson asked one of the adults to go with her to offer the Bible to the lady. The lady was overjoyed, and Allyson realized she had brought the Bible that day for the lady, not the man.

Allyson was born in Colorado and lives in Idaho.


Jennifer Rau

Walla Walla Valley Academy

College Place, Washington

Jennifer Rau is a four-year senior at Walla Walla Valley Academy (WWVA). She graduated in June and plans to continue to pursue her passion for the arts in her post-secondary career. Her parents, Jerry and Heidi, and younger sister, Sarena, are all active members of the WWVA school community.

This active and engaged spirit is very evident in Jennifer as well. While working in the school's front office, her spirit of service comes shining through. She is always treating guests and her fellow students with respect and grace. Her spirit of service doesn't stop at the doors of the school, as evidenced by her writing and producing her church's annual Christmas play for the past two years.

In the hallways Jennifer always seems to have a smile on her face and be quick with a word of encouragement. She can often be found helping a classmate with an assignment or accompanying them for a special music. Jennifer, thank you for sharing your caring heart with WWVA.

Featured in: July/August 2018