Abigail Roberts | The Echo
This spring, Rachael Rohwer will graduate as Taylor's first Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) major.
Created by Professor of Psychology and the Director of Initiatives for OVC Scott Moeschberger in 2009, OVC existed for eight years as a minor.
"Two years ago I was approached by our previous provost to develop the major and I initially was hesitant," Moeschberger said.
However, after discussing with experts in the field Moeschberger realized the great importance of majors which combine multiple disciplines like psychology, education and social work. OVC was then added as an interdisciplinary major at Taylor in the Spring of 2018.
While sitting in an OVC class the Spring of her junior year, Rohwer was introduced to Moeschberger's idea of starting an OVC major. Looking over the curriculum, Rohwer realized, as an almost-senior, that she had a chance of completing the entire major. The curriculum list reflected numerous classes Rohwer had already taken.
Later that day, Rohwer looked over her four-year plan with her boyfriend, now fiance, senior Joey Ferguson. She asked him what he thought of her changing her entire major. Together they realized she had just enough credits available her senior year to actually complete the entire 57-credit major. There were no time conflicts; everything fit perfectly.
"My heart was just jumping out of my chest," Rohwer said. "I was made to do this and be a part of this in some way. God loves details so much. To the 'T' God set me up to do this major . . . I felt like I had stepped exactly into what I was supposed to be doing fully, like 100 percent."
Rohwer's parents previously served as missionaries in Nigeria and church-planters in Los Angeles. In 2007, they moved to Dearborn, Michigan where they currently minister to refugees.
Rohwer began as an education major at Taylor with a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language, but she quickly found herself filling her schedule with OVC electives like unleashing the oppressed, behavior problems of children and adolescents and intro to working with OVC.
Her freshman year, God gave Rohwer a spiritual picture through a friend.
Her friend saw Rohwer going on a journey and walking in the full joy of the Lord as she began breaking off the chains of women and children in the spiritual realm.
"It wrecked me because that was everything my spirit was jumping out of my body for," Rohwer said. "I just wanted to be with those that are hurting, I wanted to call God's joy down and release people from spiritual bondage. At that time, I didn't know I was called to call people out of physical and emotional bondage too."
As a junior, Rohwer also began volunteering three days a week with Lift, an afterschool program in Upland, where she saw significant changes in the lives of vulnerable children.
One particular student Rohwer bonded with came from an abusive home. On this student's hardest day, Rohwer sat with her and listened to the many hurts bubbling over from this student's childhood.
"This experience for sure makes the major stand out all the more," Rohwer said. "Realizing a major like this is so necessary. We so need laborers here fighting for the rights and equality of children . . . And there is hope with the tools that we're learning: social policy and advocacy, learning about how to best listen and sit with children."
Pioneering a new major alone is no easy task. Rohwer has been the first to complete any advanced OVC classes, as even now the program directors are still trying to figure out what classes they want to be officially in the program.
This led to many independent studies and difficult first projects.
"She's a great role model for our younger students," Moeschberger said. "She is so dedicated and so committed and so passionate. To see her walk with the Lord, wow, she's amazing with her sense of calling . . . she's kind of an ideal first graduate in that sense."
Moeschberger highlighted Rohwer's personality and flexibility as the perfect fit for her role as a pioneer for the program.
In her current independent study, Rohwer is analyzing the work of Christ's Hope ministry in Uganda alongside Moeschberger. Their report will directly impact the ministry's strategies with their children.
"OVC is such a reflection of God's heart, it is just so true and so pure and so founded in justice and hope," Rohwer said. "It just feels like God is so running with (this major) which makes it such a joy to be a part of because I know He is for it . . . It's so much it's hard to put into words because it's such a beautiful thing that God has given me."
Rohwer feels through OVC God has given her a home, a place in his kingdom work and she is so grateful.
Taylor's now boasts 20 OVC majors and 50 OVC minors, and numbers are growing.
Moeschberger is already excited to have current students return as alumni to share on the incredible work he believes they have the potential to accomplish.