Alumni Reflections – Ethan Masters

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Ethan Masters.

Ethan Masters – Spring 2017


Ethan in 2017


Ethan in 2018

Having studied history at Geneva for several years before arriving in Scotland I already had an understand of the significance the Reformation had on Christian and general western thought. However, my study in the Semester in Scotland program has given me the invaluable opportunity to be in the places where these monumental moments in history have occurred; to be where the people lived. Historians such as Howard Mansfield hold that time and place are inseperable. This principle was never made more clear to me than when I was standing in the fields where the secret conventicles were held or walking among the century old graves of Covenanters. Being there helps one to understand that the people of the past are not so different from people in the present. We are all image bearers of Christ regardless of the era in which we live. As Albert Einstein once said “To those of us who believe in physics, the separation between past, present, and future is only an illusion, if a stubborn one at that.” The Semester in Scotland program changed the way I understand the forefathers of the Reformed faith. They are not simply historical figures, they are people – like me, like Adam, desperately aiming to be like Christ.


Alumni Reflections – Kara Kauffman

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Kara Kauffman.

Kara Kauffman – Spring 2017

Kara slider

Kara in 2017


Kara in 2018

God did so many things in my life during the four months that I spent in Scotland through the Semester in Scotland program. Among others, He strengthened my faith in new and different ways, He brought me into a better state of self-discipline, He gave me confidence in my identity and personality, He allowed me many opportunities to travel to remarkable places, and He provided me with a wealth of new friends. The intentional design of the program to give us time and space to deepen our relationship with God and cultivate good habits in our spiritual lives made this possible.

Upon returning to Beaver Falls in the summer and resuming college in the fall, I could see the differences that had been made in my spiritual life and my spiritual growth has continued. I have also become more intentional about investing in my friendships here as well as keeping up with friends in Scotland, and I have even discovered myself to be a more disciplined student.

Lastly, I experienced firsthand the truth that the body of Christ transcends distance, age, gender, culture…and whatever else marks differences by earthly measurements. Even upon meeting members of the Airdrie RP church for the first time I was aware of the relationship that I already had with them as brothers and sisters in Christ, and the fellowship was that much sweeter.

Alumni Reflections – Lauren Della Piazza

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Lauren Della Piazza.

Lauren Della Piazza – Autumn 2016
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: Graduate Student


Lauren in 2016


Lauren in 2018

The opportunity to participate in the Semester in Scotland program during the autumn of 2016 was a profound blessing in my life. Not only was the immersive educational environment an unparalleled learning experience, but the spiritual environment I found to bear much fruit. The conversations, relationships, and class material helped me grow significantly in my faith. It reinforced what I believed and helped my to consider the Biblical basis for why I believed certain doctrinal tenets. Being encouraged to participate in the life of the Airdrie congregation solidified my decision to seek church membership. Upon my return to the United States I fulfilled a promise to join myself to a local RPCNA congregation in official membership. I see the Semester in Scotland program as a significant evidence of God’s blessing upon my life. Through it I not only gained knowledge for my education and study of history, but spiritual disciplines for life. I am eternally grateful to all those in the program and in the Airdrie congregation and to God for making it happen.

Alumni Reflections – Rachel Mack

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Rachel Mack.

Rachel Mack – Spring 2016
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: School Teacher


Rachel in 2016

Rachel slider

Rachel in 2018

I can truthfully say that the Semester in Scotland Program was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. The program not only gave me the ability to experience a new culture and see great historic sites, which I had been greatly looking forward to, but most importantly, it was a time to learn about God’s Word. Each of the professors in the program were so warm and welcoming to American students and I learned so much from each of them in the content area of our classes. But far beyond this I also learned from their focus in our classes on applying what we had learned to our lives. Not only did I gain head knowledge about how the body of Christ is supposed to function, I was able to see it modeled in the lives of the Airdrie church members and had the ability to put these principles into practice through opportunities like Kids Club and CY. What I loved about the Semester in Scotland courses was that, as one of the professors put it, we were given the time to think about the things that really matter. Semester in Scotland was a time of concentrated reading and study on God’s Word, theology, and the Christian life where I was able to read, think, and put into practice what I was learning. Our class with Jimmy Fisher on the Scottish Reformation and our Reformation tour was also an incredible way to see the places important in the lives of our spiritual forbearers. The ability to travel around Scotland to historic and scenic sites was a huge blessing and something I will always remember. The Semester was also a huge blessing because of the richness of church life which the Airdrie Church welcomes students into. Warm fellowship and spiritual conversations were incredible encouragements to my faith and a wonderful example for what life as part of the body of Christ is to be like. There are so many ways in which the Semester in Scotland was an incredible blessing to not only my college career but also to my walk with Christ. It is something I will never forget.

Alumni Reflections – Nicki Losh

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Nicki Losh.

Nicki Losh – Spring 2016
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: Care Worker


Nicki in 2016


Nicki in 2017

The Semester in Scotland Program was one of the highlights of my collegiate career. The coursework challenged me to delve deeper into my learning than I ever had before. I came out of the program with a more firm foundation of why I believe what I believe as a Christian, with a more extensive knowledge of the rich historic heritage of the Christian faith and Scotland, as well as becoming a more well-rounded individual. I really appreciated the classroom lectures being paired with field trips to historic sites around Scotland; we truly had the opportunity to behold so much beauty and saw countless historically significant places. Also I could not have asked for a more welcoming congregation. They have a gift from God of hospitality and making all the Semester in Scotland students feel like a part of the family. This program changed my life.

Alumni Reflections – Juliana Miller

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Juliana Miller.

Juliana Miller – Autumn 2015
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: Nursing Student


Juliana in 2015


Juliana in November 2017

Spending a semester in Scotland was one of the most spiritually life changing experiences of my life. Some of my most precious memories were made during this semester. As soon as I heard about Semester in Scotland, I knew I wanted to go. I had developed a love for Scotland and desired to grow in my relationship with God and in holiness. I could not miss this opportunity to focus for a whole semester on spiritual growth and my relationship with God. I love the beauty of Scotland and visiting the historic places, but most of all I treasure the teaching I received in this program.

Semester in Scotland is like no other study abroad program in that a whole semester is spent focusing on spiritual growth. All our professors desired us to grow spiritually, to leave with a deeper knowledge of God and of His call upon us to strive for holiness in all areas of our lives. God used this teaching to deeply convict me of my sins, of my lack of commitment to godliness, of my lack of fervor in prayer and in my devotions and my lack of desire to serve Him. I began to learn to strive after holiness and to develop the spiritual disciplines necessary for growth in godliness. I saw godliness lived out and portrayed in the church and in the example of the church members. I was encouraged to be involved in a church that treated me as family and to be surrounded by those who are all striving after godliness along with me. Even our excursions to the sites of the Covenanters encouraged me to strive after godliness. I was moved by the stories of the Covenanters standing fast in the truth of God’s Word and giving up their lives for Christ and for His kingdom. The Semester in Scotland program is so different from every other study abroad program in its goals and priorities. It’s aim is training each student to strive after godliness and equipping them to serve God and His kingdom in every moment of their lives.

Alumni Reflections – Castine Allmond

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Castine Allmond.

Castine Allmond – Autumn 2015
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: Videographer

Castine slider

Castine in 2015


Castine in April 2018

The Semester in Scotland program was a great experience for multiple reasons. One reason is the fact that you not only learn about the history of the Reformed religion, but then get a chance to stand in the location where those moments happened. This was an eye-opening experience. Learning and reading in a class room is one thing, but having the chance to be outside and then hear and read the stories of people’s lives adds a whole new aspect of learning. Suddenly what were words on a page are given life. You can feel the wind, the grass, the rain. You understand the emotion and terror of many of the moments. There were few times you were not moved to tears leaving these locations. When you have the chance to experience history in a real way, what you leave with is not simply a fact or a story, instead it’s a connection, an experience. Another reason this was a great program is the primary focus on your personal walk with Jesus. The courses offered are geared to have you in the Word daily. This was my favorite part of the semester. Many of the classes helped you learn how to navigate through the Bible. The readings assigned were intended to help you thrive in your Christian walk. Having the absence of broad, over-arching themed tests throughout the semester helps you dive deep into your readings and lets what you interact with soak in. When you are not stressing over tests, you can really take quality time to learn everything about the subject, not just what will be on the test. The blessing of being taken out of your normal distracted college experience was like a breath of fresh air. The Semester in Scotland program was a great experience and time to reconnect with not only the saints of history, but with God himself through my studies. I would highly recommend this semester to any student.

Alumni Reflections – Joseph Dunlap

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Joseph Dunlap.

Joseph Dunlap – Spring 2015
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: Seminary Student at RP Theological Seminary, Pittsburgh


Joseph in 2015


Joseph and Monica Dunlap and their son in 2018.

“Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3). Recorded in his memoir for 1698, Thomas Boston, then licentiate, found this text to be something of a timely Ebenezer to his soul, as he was emerging from a time of spiritual leanness, and discovering in clearer ways the Lord’s gracious providence toward him. Though this text most certainly has in mind that effectual drawing which results in the conversion of the soul, the Christian often finds that the same omnipotent grace which gave life, must also at times quicken and revive. Three years ago, a remarkable effusion of quickening grace came while I was in Scotland, and it’s chief instrument was the Semester in Scotland programme. In the Spring of 2015 I had the opportunity to fulfill the purpose for which I enrolled at Geneva College – to spend a semester in the land of Knox, Guthrie, and Renwick. When I arrived in Glasgow, I was a convinced Covenanter, but my sectarian principles forbade me to pursue membership in any church, and, not unrelated was the death of spiritual vigor which clung to my soul like a thick, impenetrable fog. As I was consistently set before the means of grace, and had ample opportunity to confer with others regarding church communion (especially Mr. Quigley and Mr. McCollum), the schismatic principles faded, and shortly thereafter, Christ came to his garden and dispelled the clouds of darkness by his bright countenance.

The programme’s curriculum was integral to this awakening. In Christian Ministry the solemnity of the calling to the pastorate was heightened and largely, as a result, I was able to reflect upon the nature of an internal call, and how best to proceed if such seemed evident. In Systematic Theology and Reformed Evangelism the principle labors of the Gospel minister were clearly taught, and the same could be said of Paul’s Life and Theology. And the Reformation History class was undoubtedly one of my favorite classes, as the heroes of the faith, whom I loved from the time I was 12, were greatly endeared to me. I feel as though I could say much more about the programme, about how it propelled me into the American RP church, how it forced me to think more carefully about a potential call to ministry, how it allowed me to form deeper and longer lasting spiritual disciplines, how it was used to draw me closer to Christ – though it’d all be true, and free from vain flattery, it’d also swell into many, many more pages than is necessary. The bar of Heaven holds the record, and eternity will show what I cannot. As long as the programme remains, I trust that the Lord will use it as he has, to build his church and thereby, will be bringing glory to his blessed Name.


Alumni Reflections – Rosie Perkins

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Rosie Perkins.

Rosie Perkins – Autumn 2014
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: Care Worker


Rosie in 2014


Rosie in 2017

Semester in Scotland was a season in life of being discipled by people who deeply love the Lord, and I often share that it was the best four months of my life.

The foundation of each day was reading Scripture a while. I grew incredibly with that set time to read the Word every morning.

Class afterwards was discipleship, pure and simple. Kenneth, Stephen, Jimmy, Andrew, and Beth really cared that our hearts be changed by what we learned, that we actually grow in conformity to Christ. Andrew said one day that if studying God’s truth through SIS doesn’t change our hearts, we’re all wasting our time. But praise God, He’s faithful!

Learning from godly people, studying personally, and discussing the Bible inflamed my love for God and made me more passionate to serve Him. (I know this has been true for other students as well!)

Worshipping twice on Lord’s days, attending Bible studies, helping with Kids’ Club & Covenanter Youth, going to prayer meetings, and fellowshipping… I’d never had all these at one church before! SIS students are taught what it is to be active in a local church, and that is such a gift.

I am also thankful for all the saints I met in Scotland. I have so many brothers & sisters in the RPCS now! You all are a huge encouragement to me, there’s a passion for Christ in many of your members that’s incredibly rare. From Donalda’s prison witnessing in Glasgow to Rosie Tait’s evangelistic heart in Edinburgh, I’ve made loads of friends I can imitate as they imitate Christ. I pray they can say the same of me.

I’d also never been experienced preaching like we sat under in Airdrie and Glasgow. Three years later, I still listen to Andrew and Kenneth during the week, and they are always a blessing to my soul.

Lastly, SIS is the reason I am at my present church. In Scotland, I learned what excellent preaching and shepherding look like in practice. I became ravenous for it.

I am so, so thankful to God for my months with His saints in Scotland. He used your discipleship and fellowship to grow me in my love for Him, and then bring me to my present church body.


Alumni Reflections – Debbie Shafer Beer

Continuing in our series of past students reflecting on how the programme has impacted them, this week we are hearing from Debbie Beer.

Debbie Beer – Autumn 2014
Then: Student at Geneva College
Now: Homemaker

Debbie Shafer

Debbie in 2014


David, Debbie, and their son in November 2017.

The Semester in Scotland program was life changing and a dream come true. I had dreamed of doing the program ever since I went to visit Scotland the summer before my sister did the program. Ten years later, I was so excited when I was finally able to go! I learned so, so much about the doctrines of the RP church and it helped me establish a firm foundation for my beliefs and answered the many questions that I had. The tours of Scotland were also very edifying, teaching me of the history of Scotland and of the Covenanters. I loved every bit of my time in Scotland with this program and wish that I could do it again. There is always so much to learn and this was my favorite place and way to learn it! I will never forget my many amazing adventures, and Scotland will always hold a special place in my heart.