TJ Acosta

TJ Acosta

Thomas “TJ” Acosta is a commuter student at Geneva College. But he doesn’t commute from his home—that would take approximately 37 hours by car or six hours by plane because home for TJ is Cocula in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

“Yes, I am from Mexico,” says TJ. “I moved there when I was five and lived there until I came to Geneva.” TJ’s parents are missionaries who run a children’s shelter out of their home. “There are currently 22 kids living at our house.”

TJ lived in the U.S. until he was 5, and then moved to Mexico. But he and his family would make annual trips to the U.S. until he was 9. “After 2005, I only returned to the U.S. for three visits, one of which was a visit to Geneva,” remarks TJ.

That a person from Mexico would have even heard of a college as far away as Pennsylvania seems improbable. However, TJ has ties to Geneva via the children of one of the college’s professors.

“My original connection to Geneva was through the family of biology professor Dr. Essig. His son and daughter spent extended periods of time in Mexico volunteering in a ministry there. Dr. Essig’s kids mentioned Geneva a lot, and I figured it was worth looking into. I applied and God put everything into place for me to attend.”

TJ currently lives with the Essig’s on College Hill in Beaver Falls, and he calls the area “a completely different world from Mexico. It probably took me half of the first semester to fully adjust to the routine of American life. I am still lost most of the time when it comes to slang or pop culture references.”

Because of the cultural differences, TJ has spent some time trying to adjust. He recalls one story from his first semester at Geneva: “I stepped outside class and asked my friend why the rain was making such a weird noise, a question to which he laughed hysterically and explained how it was sleet, not rain. We don’t get anywhere near freezing temperatures in Mexico.”

Geneva College might be a bit colder than Mexico, but TJ has enjoyed his experience nonetheless. “There is more than one thing about Geneva that I love,” TJ states. “One of the things that surprised me most was the teachers. I have never had teachers who are as genuine and sincere as I have had at Geneva. They care about how well they are presenting the material and they reflect Christ in the way that they teach.”

TJ is studying engineering at Geneva with the end goal of becoming a missionary after graduation. When he is not studying, TJ enjoys playing guitar, hiking, studying outside, dorm Bible studies and hanging out with friends. “Another thing about Geneva that I love is the opportunity for community. The community is always there for you to be part of if you want to, and not a lot of schools can offer that for commuter students,” TJ observes.

TJ also takes advantage of the opportunities for community at Geneva by participating in the Civil Engineering Club (ASCE) on campus and the Big Brother Big Sister program.

So even though TJ’s home is about 2,300 miles away, he obviously has made a new home in Beaver Falls at Geneva College.

-Chris Strangfeld ’13


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