The Peninsula Constant: Kayla Reesey's Journey as a Fellow
by David Calhoun
Few fellows come into their year with a deeply rooted love for their program’s city. In Kayla Reesey’s case, love for the Newport News, Virginia (aka the Peninsula) area goes all the way back to her sophomore year at Christopher Newport University. Despite an initially difficult transition to post-college life in the Peninsula, God kept Kayla’s love for the area intact and deepened it through her time as a Peninsula fellow.
Called to the Peninsula
While at CNU, Kayla spent nearly all of her time doing the two big things the Lord has consistently put in font of her: mission work with high schoolers and computer technology. More importantly, serving through Young Life, growing in her knowledge of computer science, and sharing her computer knowledge with kids in the community caused her to fall in love with the Peninsula. This all occurred in the context of community as she was able to receive encouragement through her Christ-centered group of Young Life friends and mentorship from professors that went out of their way to care for her. By investing in these outlets, where her core passions and abilities intersected with areas of real need, Kayla began to feel called to the Peninsula as her new home.
Despite a firm sense of calling to the Peninsula, Kayla experienced a “lonely and miserable” transition to post-college life. She knew she was supposed to be in the Peninsula but, when most of her friends left, she found herself lacking even a semblance of the community she had in college. On top of this, her full time IT job did not allow her to serve the surrounding community through her work and caused her to doubt whether she should pursuit IT at all. The progression of these circumstances over a roughly two year period caused her to think to herself, “I don’t know how to follow the Lord as an adult.”
Becoming a Fellow
Unmoored from community and disenchanted with her work but still devoted to the Peninsula, Kayla was in a tough spot. Back when she was graduating, the Peninsula Fellows program did not exist yet so when she heard of what a fellows program was at CNU, she didn’t even consider becoming a fellow because her love for the Peninsula was so strong. But, when she received the providential news that a fellows program was coming to the Peninsula, she quickly made plans to join the first class. Although the pandemic disrupted her fellows year, Kayla’s commitment to the Peninsula was affirmed through rich community, eye opening classes, and a renewal of her interest in IT work.
This renewed passion for IT work came through her work placement as the IT coordinator at Summit Christian Academy. When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the school to shut down, she was in charge of preparing all of the teachers to transition online. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, Kayla’s work became a real source of pleasure as she began to see her passion for helping the children and educators of the Peninsula intersect with her long held interest in computer science. She had the “time of [her] life” making tutorials for teachers and “didn’t realize how important that work was until afterwards.” This transformative experience did not by itself restore her interest in IT, but happened within the context of lessons she was learning in class with her fellows director, Mark Shaw. Their discussions about what it means to glorify God through work caused Kayla to view her IT work at Summit Christian Academy, and now with Newport News Public Schools, in the same way she viewed missions work with Young Life.