This issue: Summer 2021

Be Known Illustrated: Jonah Wafula

A long way from home, Jonah found a mentor and friend in his engineering professor – support that continued even after he changed majors.

It was a long and winding path that brought Jonah Wafula to George Fox. He had to leave his family in Uganda in the hopes that he could one day provide them with a better life. Along that journey, Jonah met engineering professor Neal Ninteman.

“I became good friends with his son, I met his wife, it was like family,” Wafula says. “He was like a father figure for me – he understood me. He said, ‘Come to my office whenever you have a question or you’re struggling with anything. Just talk to me and I’ll help.’ I felt comfortable going to other professors too, but Neal was my go-to.”

It wasn’t easy, but thanks to the support of his professors and lots of hard work and studying, Wafula was able to navigate his way through the university’s rigorous engineering program for nearly two years, despite coming to the U.S. at 15 with the equivalent of just a fifth-grade education.

But even as he was on his way to a career as an engineer that could one day help support his family back home, something didn’t feel right. Engineering wasn’t for him, and it seemed like every project was a struggle. What he really loved was telling stories, and he loved movies. Near the end of his sophomore year, Wafula began looking at the university’s cinematic arts major. “What if I could support my family doing something I really enjoy?” he thought.

But he wondered if his engineering professor and mentor would be disappointed in him for changing majors. Just the opposite turned out to be true. “Neal was really happy that I got to find what I enjoy,” Wafula recalls. “He wasn’t disappointed at all.”

In May, Wafula graduated with a degree in cinematic arts. “It’s just wonderful,” he says. “I really enjoyed all my classes. It’s not easy, but it’s what I love.”

As for Ninteman, he’s just happy to see Wafula discover God’s plan for his life. “What I’m most excited about is George Fox being the vehicle for helping Jonah find what he’s made for, to help him find what God has for him to do,” he says. “He discovered his gifts here, and now he has the skills to follow that path.”

Jonah Wafula
2021 Graduate
Major: Cinematic Arts
Hometown: Mbale, Uganda

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