I asked Kiara Zambrano to meet me on the twenty-second floor of our campus because I thought it would be nice to hear Chorale soundtracking Kiara’s story in the background as we spoke. But I got my days mixed up. Chorale is not rehearsing and I’m on my lunch break from housekeeping, and in my rush, I have forgotten everything except my phone which I plan on using to record our interview. When Kiara arrives for our meeting, she is far more prepared than I. She is calm as she effortlessly carries her phone and a mug with water in one hand, and a plastic cup with watered down iced coffee in the other. She places her belongings neatly and soundlessly on the computer bar next to us and I think, “she is the picture of readiness.” This same readiness can be seen and heard in the eagerness in which she discusses her desire to labor for the forgotten and navigate her faith.
Kiara is a second-year social work major that has her heart and mind set on serving the overlooked elderly and homeless communities that are suffering. She began her academic journey at Nyack College as a liberal arts major but as she sought clarity through prayer, she “felt God tugging at [her] heart to go into social work.” As an English major, I intentionally, or accidentally interpret the world from a very narrow and one-sided point of view. In a lot of ways, I get to be selfish. I get to ignore the horrors of the day. I get to escape into fantasies. Kiara’s calling and future career don’t allow her the same blindness. At only nineteen years old, Kiara exhibits mindfulness that I rarely see in adults. Her understanding that the hand of homelessness can extend itself toward anyone, and growing old if you’re lucky enough to, is inevitable– something I’m only just learning. Kiara’s goal isn’t just to advocate for the underserved locally but to affect laws.
Kiara and I discuss her life before coming to New York City to attend Nyack College. We compare the many similarities and differences between Vermont and New York City, “Vermont ranks like number two of the safest places to live,” Kiara tells me. I tease her about giving up butterfly catching and flattening quarters on train tracks for New York City, but we both know she is in the process of being developed. We both know New York’s unique tough love isn’t taking away from the gentleness that Vermont has equipped her with. Instead, it’s adding a necessary grittiness she’ll need for her career.
Kiara is one of the many students who is participating in this year’s Global Service-Learning trip to Israel. “Ever since I was saved I’ve always had interest in going.” This pilgrimage to the historical birthplace of our faith is important to Kiara because she believes it will help make real the places that can seem mythological while trying to comprehend the actuality of Christianity. “Sometimes it’s hard to read scripture. It’s different when I’m imagining. But if I can actually see the different lifestyles and be submerged in it…” Kiara’s natural need to trace her faith with touch and smell and taste is beautiful and genuine. It’s evidence of her hunger and desire to seek the kingdom of God.
Kiara chose to attend Nyack College because she knew at the start of her relationship with Christ that she would “need some stability and community,” where she could tether her expanding faith.