Tasha Jordan is like many young people—eager to learn, full of ideas, and excited about the possibilities that lie ahead in life. She can also be a bit reserved and shy, except when you talk to her about things she has a passion for. The great thing about Jordan is that those things—the ones she’s eager to talk about and is enthusiastic about—always come back to one theme. They always involve helping others in some way.

“My caring spirit and my love for giving to others is something that I’m good at,” says Jordan. “Giving is something that I’ve always enjoyed and makes me feel even more inspired.”

A junior at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jordan is a recipient of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Student Opportunity Scholarship for the 2012–13 academic year. She found out about the scholarship from her pastor, Saleem Ghubril, of Mosaic Community Church, and it was exactly what she needed to cover her remaining tuition expenses for this year.

“I remember I was worried about it for a very long time, and when I stopped worrying was when I found out I had received this scholarship, so it was definitely a blessing,” she says.

When she was 14, Jordan got involved with a local Christian outreach called the Pittsburgh Project and volunteered there for the next six years, tutoring local students, working in the kitchen, and helping with projects for the disabled and elderly in the neighborhood. It was here that she met Ghubril and started attending Mosaic.

She credits her pastor with being someone she sees as a mentor. Ghubril has helped her prepare for some of her volunteer work.

“He was making sure I read my Bible in order to reconnect with my faith. He’s just been really great in helping me keep my faith growing and helping me make good decisions and act Christlike,” says Jordan.

It initially appeared that Jordan would follow an artistic path. She attended the Pittsburgh School for the Creative and Performing Arts, graduating in 2009 with honors. She played the flute, and while she enjoyed sharing the gift of music with others, she didn’t feel she had the natural ability to turn that into a life, so she directed her energy elsewhere.

After high school, Jordan went to the Community College of Allegheny County and got an associate degree in science. It was the first step in her dream of working in the medical field, and she has since focused that dream on becoming a surgeon. For Jordan, being a surgeon would not just fulfill her personal desire; she also sees it as an opportunity to continue sharing and giving back to others, a vision that became particularly clear after a mission trip last month.

“I just went to Guatemala for spring break for a week on a mission trip with Shadyside Presbyterian Church. We helped with teaching kids and building houses for people,” she explains.

Yet Jordan saw another need while she was there. She saw a genuine need for better medical care in Guatemala and realizes this is a need that exists in many places throughout the world.

“If you had asked me about a year ago what I wanted to be, I’d have told you I wanted to be a surgeon. Now, after my trip to Guatemala, I have a new outlook on life. I still do want to be a surgeon, but in the missionary field,” she says. “One of my biggest focuses in becoming a surgeon is I want to work abroad and be a mission doctor and travel with a church to different countries and serve the people of the world.”

Like many young people, Jordan struggled a bit with what exactly she wanted to do. She knew she wanted to be involved in medicine, and she knew she wanted to help other people. She had many ideas and many gifts to share but needed to find a way to focus them and serve not only herself but God as well.

“Tasha is intentional about following Christ, growing in grace, and serving her community,” says Ghubril. “While achieving professional success is one area of focus, her primary focus is to be found faithful and to live purposefully.”

Whether or not Jordan realizes her dream of becoming a surgeon, it’s clear that she will end up finding a path that allows her to share and to help others.

“I thank God for giving me such an open heart, and knowing I am doing something that satisfies him makes me very happy,” Jordan says. “I believe that one life means nothing if that life isn’t dedicated to improving the lives of others.”

# # #

Applications for the Student Opportunity Scholarship are due June 1 for the 2013–14 academic year. Visit the website to download an application.

Toni Montgomery is a freelance writer who lives in North Carolina and also serves as secretary of First Presbyterian Church of Statesville.