We never know how our lives are going to unfold. As a college student, I know this feeling all too well.
While sitting in class with a professor that seems to have it all together – an established career, family, stability – that feeling of uncertainty can sneak in.
But we forget that our professors were once in our shoes.
Dr. Qin Ma, a professor of mechanical engineering here at Walla Walla University, is no exception.
Dr. Ma grew up in a remote village in China with his parents and two sisters. He had a dream of receiving an education, but at that time, getting accepted into a Chinese university was highly competitive – so competitive it was almost impossible. He said, “At that time, if 100 people applied to college, only 3 would get accepted.”
During his childhood, a few Adventist missionaries visited his village. Young Dr. Ma heard the name Jesus for the first time. He was curious and receptive though skeptical at first. He wondered, “How could a man who lived so long ago affect my life?”
But God was working.
Dr. Ma gained acceptance to college and earned his first degree – he fell in love with learning. He longed for the freedom and advancement of the United States educational system, so he began applying to American research institutions.
Again, God was working.
Dr. Ma was led to the University of Florida, but visas for him and his wife were standing in the way. It’s such a long and hard process to gain access to the United States from China, but the connections Dr. Ma had been cultivating since childhood were about to become pivotal.
The Adventist researcher that he had been working under in China had a connection with a researcher at the University of Florida. With his recommendation, their visas came within a few weeks!
So, Dr. Ma furthered his research career while attaining his second master’s degree.
Eventually, Dr. Ma found his way to Walla Walla University and has been teaching here for 18 years. He continues his research and thoroughly enjoys teaching his students.
His story is a reminder to me, a college student who has no idea what I’m doing, that God has a plan and is leading me even when I can’t see it.