Alumni / Rachel Ahrens: Class of 2018
written by Hannah Ahrens, Rachel's sister
I never thought Rachel would go to college. It seemed that a collegiate future for my sister was one my family could only dream about. Because of the way she was created (fearfully and wonderfully by God, yes, but with developmental limitations), in my mind, I resigned her to a life at home with my parents. This is not at all to say I do not believe in her or love her deeply; I just could not foresee a viable future, especially academically, for her.
Shepherds College was, in my opinion, a miracle to my family. Rachel found out she was going there and actually moved in with less than a month’s notice. She, in typical “Rachel” fashion, tackled the transition with exuberance and hope for her own future; she is my hero in so many ways.
Now, being a Shepherds College graduate, Rachel lives in Union Grove with another sweet woman as part of an independent living program. She works in the Piggly Wiggly bakery, a connection she made during her time as a student at Shepherds. This job is a dream to her! She gets to bake, decorate, and interact with customers. Nothing could be more in her wheelhouse! She also volunteers at Shepherds Community Café. She continues to practice her Appropriate Independence in many ways: cleaning her home, living well with other people, being mindful of her budget, grocery shopping, cooking… the list could go on.
Rachel has a connection to God like no one I’ve known; it seems as though she was hardwired with a keen sense of the Holy Spirit's movement. Her faith was nurtured deeply at Shepherds, largely through the hands-on Bible classes and the experiences the instructors create for the students to engage with the text.
My sister’s life before Shepherds and, now, after Shepherds, looks drastically different… in the absolute best way possible. She is able to grow into who, I believe, God has created her to be in a whole new way. Her horizons have broadened; her opportunities have multiplied; her faith has grown deep roots. I am proud to be Rachel’s sister, and I know I speak on behalf of my whole family when I say that we cannot adequately express our gratitude to the incredible institution of Shepherds College. They paved a future for my sister – and my family – that we never could have dreamed of before.