Student Leadership


Every year, OCF is led by a team of talented students who take on leadership positions in Orthodox campus ministry. The Student Leadership Board works with staff and clergy volunteers to implement the programs of OCF, advise and inspire their peers on campuses, and develop new resources and programs for Orthodox college students.

Click on a name below to get to know your 2017-2018 Board!

Nicole Petrow
Student Leadership Board Chairman, slbchairman@ocf.net
David Munkres
Northwest Student Leader, northweststudent@ocf.net
Markayla Stroubakis
Southwest Student Leader, southweststudent@ocf.net
Quinn Marquardt
Mountain Student Leader, mountainstudent@ocf.net
Valerie Hanna
South Student Leader, southstudent@ocf.net
Amelia Barron
Midwest Student Leader, midweststudent@ocf.net
Michael Hostetler
Great Lakes Student Leader, greatlakesstudent@ocf.net
Fevronia Koufogazos
Southeast Student Leader, southeaststudent@ocf.net
Rachel Howanetz
Mid-Atlantic Student Leader, midatlanticstudent@ocf.net
Caroline Mellekas
Northeast Student Leader, northeaststudent@ocf.net
Mark Sultani
College Conference East Student Leader, cceaststudent@ocf.net
Nora Haddad
College Conference West Student Leader, ccweststudent@ocf.net
Peter Savas
College Conference Midwest Student Leader, ccmidweststudent@ocf.net
Anna Sobchak
Real Break Student Leader, realbreakstudent@ocf.net
Benjamin Solak
Publications Student Leader, publicationsstudent@ocf.net
Mark Saber
Media Student Leader, mediastudent@ocf.net
Anastasia Lysack
Podcast Student Leader, podcaststudent@ocf.net
Spyridoula Fotinis
Public Relations Student Leader, publicrelationsstudent@ocf.net


Nicole Petrow, Student Leadership Board Chairman

Year in School: Senior
School: Creighton University
Major: Classical & Near Eastern Civilizations & Classical Languages
Minors: Philosophy & Art History

My OCF Story
OCF has been the single most defining aspect of my college experience. Without the community of my OCF chapter at Creighton, and the incredible people on the SLB, I would have had neither the courage nor inspiration to grow in my faith in the way I have these past three years. Whether it’s through an adventure on Real Break, a moving discussion at a chapter meeting, or the friendly buzz of a groupchat, OCF is a constant reminder of the true power of Christ’s love.

An OCF Anecdote
Over the past three years, OCF has colored my life with incredible friends, mentors, and experiences. This spring I traveled with fifteen amazing friends to St. Innocent’s Orphanage and participated in Project Mexico. St. Innocent’s boys were full of jokes, laughs, and hugs, and were an invaluable blessing during a difficult time. I can’t wait to see what new relationships and adventures are in store for my final year in OCF.

Interests
I love to read, study languages, listen to music, and lip sync battle in my spare time.

A Message to My Fellow Students
Do not get discouraged! I know firsthand how difficult it can be to organize a lethargic chapter or to foster spiritual growth when nothing seems effective. However, we are never alone. Stay connected to OCF, talk to your district leader, attend College Conference, go on Real Break, and suck the marrow out of life. Lastly, “do not forget prayer, it is the life of the soul.” –St. Nikon of Optina

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
In 2013 I was elected pope of my all-girls high school in a mock papal conclave.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Gerasimos of Kefalonia

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David MunkresNorthwest Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
School: Boise State University
Major: Communications
Minor: Philosophy

My OCF Story
OCF has changed my life! I’ve made great friendships and memories by participating in OCF. After starting the chapter at BSU, attending College Conference West, multiple regional/district retreats, and SLI, I am always learning from my fellow students about Christ and Orthodoxy. I always love meeting and learning from fellow OCF students.

An OCF Anecdote
I love the Northwest Regional Retreats! We are always blessed to hear from THE Abbot Tryphon and the sisters of St. John the Forerunner Greek Orthodox Monastery. Every semester, this retreat is a place to recharge and put Christ at the center of my life. The chanting is beautiful, and the students always amaze me with their love for Christ.

Interests
playing music and sports, exploring urban/rural Boise, traveling, reading, hiking, spending time with friends, trying new restaurants and coffee shops

A Message to My Fellow Students
College is a great place to learn and try new things! Go and stretch your comfort zone. Make sure to find a way Orthodoxy is a part of that. Grow as a person and as an Orthodox Christian. OCF is a great place to do both. Be involved any way you can. Attend regional/district retreats, College Conference, Real Break, and SLI. You get out what you put in!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I am a fantastic tango dancer! I love learning new forms of dance or any way of being active. I’m also an Eagle Scout from an all-Orthodox troop. My project was building the chicken coop at Fr. Tryphon’s monastery.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
My patron saint, James, Son of Thunder, St. Mary of Egypt, and Sts. Paisios and Porphyrios of the Holy Mountain

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Markayla Stroubakis, Southwest Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
School: University of California – Berkeley
Major: Nutritional Science & Dietetics

My OCF Story
This is my third year as Southwest Student Leader, and it’s been so incredible meeting wonderful, talented, and God-fearing students in my area. I keep coming back to OCF because this organization inspires me to be more Christ-like, both through its own programs and by meeting others. OCF has been my safe haven for the last three years and has truly been the most impactful organization I have ever been a part of.

An OCF Anecdote
At College Conference, what stood out to me the most were the incredible right and left chanters we had during Paraklesis. Our generation is so full of love for Christ and that was infectious and apparent during their chanting. It was truly amazing to sing with everyone there.

Interests
singing, cooking, hiking, being outside, reading, Byzantine chant

A Message to My Fellow Students
Join OCF! Go when you’re stressed! You will never regret going to church. In fact, it’ll probably make you more focused when you go back home to study afterward. OCF is great at guiding us during our crazy college lives and reminding us to look back to our roots.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I am a Food Network enthusiast and have probably watched every single episode of Chopped.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. John Maximovitch

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Quinn Marquardt, Mountain Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
School: University of Wyoming
Major: Communication
Minor: Business

My OCF Story
I have formed some of my greatest friendships, made some of my best memories, and have had amazing opportunities during college through OCF. Whether it be with the formation of an OCF chapter at my own school, attending College Conference, going on Real Break trips, or a regional retreat, I am in awe of the faith and dedication of my fellow OCFers. OCF has changed my life, and I can only hope and pray that I can give back to OCF what it has given to me.

An OCF Anecdote
Choosing to participate in Real Break Romania was one of the best decisions I could ever have made. Having the opportunity to experience an Orthodox country was amazing to me. Half of our trip was spent at Pro Vita Orphanage where the faith and love of everyone there was so inspiring. our pilgrimage to Bucharest gave us the opportunity to visit numerous monasteries and churches and venerate relics of saints.

Interests
playing tennis, hiking, fishing, traveling, cooking, and baking

A Message to My Fellow Students
Take advantage of the opportunities that are thrown your way. Go on fun adventures and don’t be afraid to travel across the country, or world for that matter, with nobody that you know. I know from experience, you make the best friendships that way. College is a time of new experiences, so don’t be afraid to try new things, but remember your Orthodox foundation.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
Cleaning is something I actually enjoy doing!

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Alexios the Man of God

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Valerie Hanna, South Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
School: Texas A&M University
Major:  Telecommunication Media Studies
Minor: Art

My OCF Story
OCF has taken me beyond what I expected it to. I never expected to apply for SLB my freshman year, but I am so thankful this is where I have been brought. OCF has brought me some of my best friends who help every day in my spiritual journey. I oculd write an entire essay as to why OCF means so much to me, but I’ll keep it short and simple: thank God.

An OCF Anecdote
One of my absolute favorite things is late night chanting at both College Conference and some of the retreats I’ve been to, especially when you’ve become friends with people who chant or love to sing along. It creates an entirely new meaning and feeling you will treasure for so many years to come!

Interests
anything music (especially concerts), reading, drawing, photography, and spending too much time at my local coffee shop

A Message to My Fellow Students
I can talk for ages why OCF is so amazing, and how it has so much to offer and you won’t regret getting involved, but I know you won’t understand what I’m talking about until you experience it yourself. Take the risk and get involved. There is really no harm that will come out of it. I encourage you to take that step, you never know where it will lead you!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I’m super old school and love to take and print out pictures so I can always look back on them (and never fear of losing them to the oblivion that is the internet).

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
tied between St. Thekla and St. Xenia

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Amelia Barron, Midwest Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
School: University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign
Major: Animal Science/Pre-Veterinary Medicine

My OCF Story
College has certainly been a bumpy ride. I’ve encountered obstacles and circumstances that I had never imagined. OCF has always been there. The relationships I’ve built and experiences I’ve gathered have really helped me along the way. Real Break trips and College Conference have both taught me so much about Orthodoxy in ways I never expected. I will always be grateful for OCF in my life–without it, I’m not sure how I would have made it these last few years.

An OCF Anecdote
OCF at the U of I is probably one of my favorite things about my university. We’re all so close, they’re my best friends. In 2016, I went on Real Break Guatemala, and it was almost life-changing, I didn’t want to leave. It was a place filled with so much love, and those nuns care for those children so much. Jerusalem this past spring was amazing, too–there’s just too much to say. Real Break is the best.

Interests
I am an officer for a horse rescue organization back at school. I also am a research assistant for one of my professors doing a study on colon cancer. I love to hike, bike, swim–anything outsides! I also work at my school’s dairy farm.

A Message to My Fellow Students
I really hope that my fellow students take advantage of OCF as much as they can while they can. All of the events and experiences are definitely worthwhile. College can be really challenging, and almost scary at times. It’s important that we stay in touch with Christ because He’s all we really have. Also, if ever you’re in trouble, always know that there are people who love you that have probably gone through the same struggles, which is why it’s so important to develop relationships within the Orthodox faith. Just being able to talk to someone who’s on the same page as you can be very helpful.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I used to be a competitive tap dancer. Also, I hitchhiked four times in a day once, but that’s probably something I shouldn’t be too proud of…

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Paisios, St. Mary of Egypt, or St. Gerasimos of the Jordan (How can I just pick one?)

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Michael Hostetler, Great Lakes Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
School: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Major: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Minor: Japanese Language & Culture

My OCF Story
In addition to being my weekly refuge from the hustle and bustle of college life, OCF has given me the means and motivation to further incorporate Orthodoxy into my everyday life. By being in OCF, I Have learned more about myself as a Christian in the past two years than I would have thought possible.

An OCF Anecdote
This past year, the University of Michigan OCF was blessed to be visited by not one, but two bishops at our meetings. Hearing their messages about our (young people) role in the future of the Church was inspiring and encouraging to our members. It was definitely my favorite part of this past school year.

Interests
University of Michigan Marching Band Drumline, watching documentaries, playing pool

A Message to My Fellow Students
College can be a cruel place. Opening your mind and heart to God is a sure fire way to ease the stress that you or others place upon yourself and to keep everything in perspective. “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to Him and are safe.” Proverbs 18:10

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 15 seconds (if you ever think about putting in the time to learn how to do this, I assure you it is not worth it).

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Kyriaki the Great Martyr

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Fevronia Koufogazos, Southeast Student Leader

Year in School: Sophomore
School: University of Florida
Major: Psychology
Minor: Greek Studies

My OCF Story
Joining OCF is the best decision that I could have made going into college. The friends I’ve made, the connections I’ve built, and the faith I’ve kept strong are all due to this amazing organization. Prior to entering college, the first thing I sought out when looking at where I was going to go to school was whether or not there was an Orthodox church and OCF group nearby. From the moment I learned about OCF, I knew that it was something I wanted to get involved with. Adjusting to college during my freshman year was challenging, but OCF was my rock during that entire transition. I knew that I would always have people to turn to when things got tough, and I would always have people to pray for me. OCF provides me with an outlet and release from all the stresses of everyday life, and it constantly reminds of the person I really am. The most beautiful thing about OCF, and the thing that I love the most about it, is that it unites all Orthodox Christians and allows me to experience Pan-Orthodoxy in a way that I have never experienced it before.

An OCF Anecdote
During our Spring 2017 Southeast Regional Retreat, WorkDaze, I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the media team that captured the weekend with many pictures and videos. WorkDaze takes place at the Diakonia Retreat Center in Salem, South Carolina which is where I spent many of my summers as a camper at St. Stephen’s Camp. At one point during the weekend, I walked around to the opposite side of the lake to go stand on a hill, over by where they are building a church, and take pictures because it gave me the perfect view of the entire camp. I remember standing there watching over everyone as they were either in canoes putting lime in the lake, taking apart the floating dock, or raking and burning leaves, and it was so humbling to watch all these college students put in so much effort to help take care of the camp that had become my second home. All the pictures and videos I took of everyone does not do justice for the passion, love, and dedication that these students had to help the Diakonia Center, and standing on top of that hill and getting to experience that first hand is something that will remain in my heart for a very long time.

Interests
travelling, photography, watching too much TV, playing the ukulele, writing, reading, enoing at the beach, cooking, country music, drinking black coffee, anything Disney, and Boston sports

A Message to My Fellow Students
The single most important thing that I want to tell my fellow students is to get involved! Do not hesitate to go to OCF meetings, district/regional retreats, and national programs for any reasons. So many times, I hear the excuse of, “I do not know anybody that is going so I do not want to go,” but the only way to get to know people is if you attend these events. I promise that you will not regret a moment of it. OCF Is filled with some of the most welcoming, kind, and humble people that I have ever met, so do not pass up on an opportunity to befriend them. We are all at a point in our lives where school can get stressful and difficult, and sometimes our vision of the future gets blurred. Do not let that discourage you from persevering through the tough times, and do as I have done and make OCF your rock so that you always have something and someone to turn to. I look forward to working with all of you this year and serving Christ together!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
My absolute favorite thing to do is travel, and one thing that most people do not know is that I love collecting souvenirs. I have visited well over 100 different places, and I have collected hundreds of souvenirs over time from the places I have visited.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Dionysios

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Rachel Howanetz, Mid-Atlantic Student Leader

RachelYear in School: Senior
School: Millersville University
Major: Early Childhood Education (Pre-k through 4th grade)
Minor: Psychology

My OCF Story
To me, OCF means family. I was that high school senior who was very nervous to go to college. I was excited for the new opportunities ahead but was fearful at the same time. Being drawn into my university’s chapter of OCF and being welcomed into the local parish with open arms was pivotal to my early college experience. Through all my OCF experiences–chapter meetings, regional/district retreats, College Conference East, Real Break Romania, Real Break Thessaloniki, and serving on the OCF Student Leadership Board for the 2016-2017 school year, I have made new lifelong friends and built relationships that are most importantly rooted in the faith.

An OCF Anecdote
OCF Real Break is a program that never ceases to amaze me. This year, I had the opportunity to go on Real Break Thessaloniki. Not only was it the biggest Real Break Trip ever (23 students and 5 clergy members/lay people) made up of students from all over the country, but we got to adventure to some of the neatest, holiest, and most breath-taking places. From the heights of Meteora, the depths of a Stalagmite/stalactite filled cave, praying in the cave of St. Gregory Palamas, running through the ancient city of Philippi, and to stuffing our faces with frappes and bougatsa, the trip was simply unforgettable.

Interests
education clubs, dancing, singing, drawing/painting, crafting, photography, traveling, and drinking coffee

A Message to My Fellow Students
Between academic work, extracurriculars, jobs, and taking time for yourself, college can be a hectic and stressful time. It can be easy to overlook the beauty and blessings God has put in front of you. During my time in college, attending church and being surrounded by an Orthodox Christian community has become my way of finding peace during this busy time in my life. Find this community on your campus, in your local community, in your district, in your region, and beyond, and don’t hesitate to get involved. Take the leap and attend a retreat, invite a friend to a meeting, travel on a Real Break, and/or attend College Conference. If you don’t know where to begin, reach out to your local district or regional leader because we are here to serve YOU! I look forward to hopefully meeting you at an OCF event this year!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
Once I wrote a rap…to help children learn their sight words. 🙂

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Sophia and her three daughters: Faith, Hope, and Love

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Caroline Mellekas, Northeast Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
School: Fordham University
Major: Religious Studies
Minor: Orthodox Christian Studies & Arabic

My OCF Story
OCF has been the unconditional support of my college experience. Whether in my own chapter, or when meeting smiling new faces, to encounter people who are not afraid to live their faith, especially amidst the secularities of college, has been nothing short of inspiring. OCF transforms our vulnerabilities with a zeal to live Orthodoxy courageously. Had I not experienced the retreats, meetings, or even mere conversations over the past few years, I would not want to know the person I would be. It has been a privilege to grow with people and clergy that pull the best out of ourselves for the greater glory of Christ. I am so grateful that I decided to come and see this life transforming ministry!

An OCF Anecdote
In the Fall of 2015, I had the opportunity of attending the Mid-Atlantic Regional Retreat. There, we had the honor of visiting the Kardiotissa in Taylor, PA. That night I was able to sleep just feet away from the Kardiotissa. While being so close was gratifying enough, seeing the faithful humbly venerate in all hours of the night was something I will never forget. Creepy to have watched on my part, I’ll admit, but nonetheless, the fervent devotion of their presence was beyond inspirational. Witnessing the trust and magnification people put in the Theotokos in turn drew me closer to her. It was truly amazing to be surrounded by such pure love that weekend. Time and time again, these memories remind me of where my center should be, especially when I begin to slip into compartmentalizing my spiritual life. It’s incredible how impactful even the simplest of moments can be through this ministry.

Interests
hiking, running, visiting as many different parishes in New York City as I can, and cooking Greek food

A Message to My Fellow Students
Come and see. There’s always an enriching experience to be had if you enter with your heart. No matter how difficult college life is at times, Christ has a way in everything. Trusting that is the key, and what better way to do so than alongside fellow Orthodox Christian students.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I once spent a week backpacking in the desert (in Arizona). Although I’ve only done it a few times, backpacking is such an amazing way to encounter God’s creation and stillness. So, I hope to go on as many more trips as possible!

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Porphyrios

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Mark Sultani, College Conference East Student Leader

WIN_20160602_10_18_38_ProYear in School: Senior
School: University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
Major: Computer Science

My OCF Story
I got involved with OCF at University of Michigan from the first week of my freshman year. Since then I’ve become the President of our chapter, attended College Conference East, and participated in Real Break Thessaloniki. OCF has been a vital part of my college experience, providing for me an Orthodox Christian community in which I can participate, make friends, and grow with fellow Orthodox classmates. Now beginning my second year on the SLB, I’m so excited to continue serving this ministry, especially with College Conference.

An OCF Anecdote
From this last year’s College Conference East, the lip-sync battle we had the second night was probably one of the most entertaining nights of my life. The impressive talent and hilarity that ensued gave everyone a great time.

Interests
Outside OCF, I’m a part of an Arabic dancing group on campus, I play ping pong, and I watch the most random “TED-ed” videos on YouTube.

A Message to My Fellow Students
OCF has the potential to be a vital part of your college experience and your spiritual life. Get involved with your school’s OCF or start one if you don’t have one yet. Attend national programs such as College Conference, Real Break, and Summer Leadership Institute, and regional and district retreats as much as you are able. Having an Orthodox community of friends is an invaluable support in our relationship with Christ and His Church.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I’m quite uncoordinated until I’m dancing.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Ahmed the Calligrapher (look him up!)

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Nora Haddad, College Conference West Student Leader

Year in School: Fourth
School: University of Central Oklahoma
Major: Childhood Development

My OCF Story
OCF has changed my life completely. Before I decided to apply for SLB for the first time, I used to not do things because of my fear of potentially failing. Despite my fear, I applied, got accepted, and through this, God taught me to do my best and He will proved the rest. The people I have met through OCF have become my dearest friends, and OCF has allowed me not only to open up to opportunities and to others, but to God as well.

An OCF Anecdote
My favorite thing about College Conference West is doing the “Glory to God for All Things” Akathist on a mountain top during sunrise. There is something very mystical about praising God in nature, together as one family through Christ.

Interests
composing/playing music (viola, violin, piano, singing, and a little guitar), writing, teaching in any way, shape or form, chanting

A Message to My Fellow Students
The spiritual warfare is real. The enemy is real. But most importantly, God is real. Be vigilant and cling to Him, and a great way to strengthen yourself through Christ is by the OCF ministry–cherish the friends you make/have and know that through God, everything will be okay.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I can burp louder than any man, woman, or elf you have ever heard.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain

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Peter Savas, College Conference Midwest Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
School: Loyola University – Chicago
Major: Psychology & Theology

My OCF Story
My OCF story is fairly simple. When I came to Loyola, I wanted and needed an organization or a group of people to keep me grounded in my faith. With Loyola’s OCF chapter, I’ve been able to find that. With a great priest who loves the youth, and isn’t afraid to have real, hard conversations about controversial topics, Father John Kalomas has done an amazing job connecting with the college students, and specifically me. It is very easy to lose yourself in college, to focus on, think about, and dwell on things that really aren’t that important. When I’m in college, I am in a bubble. OCF is a way for me to refocus and concentrate on the things in my life that really matter. My faith, my community, and and the church in general.

An OCF Anecdote
The best thing that I’ve experienced with OCF was last year at College Conference Midwest. After the dance on the last night, all of College Conference went on hike through the proskinitaria trail (a hiking trail with Icons at various points throughout). There was at least 6 inches of snow on the ground, but we all hiked through the woods stopping at each icon, reading about the scene or the saint and saying a prayer. It was really beautiful and it was one of my favorite parts of that weekend.

Interests
Beyond OCF, I am involved with Loyola’s Hellenic Student Association (HSA). My sophomore year, I served as the club’s Secretary, my junior year I was “Cultural Director”, and this year I am media chairperson. HSA is essentially a group of kids who get together to celebrate, bond over, and appreciate Greek Culture. Some of my best friends at school come from HSA.

Another group that I am involved with is call “Labre Homeless Ministry”. It is named after St. Benedict Joseph Labre, the Catholic saint of the poor. Labre aims to be in solidarity with people experiencing homelessness on the streets of Chicago. Essentially, we look to build relationships with those who are living on the streets. This group has brought me a lot of perspective, as well as a drive to serve, for that I am immensely thankful.

A Message to My Fellow Students
College Conference Midwest was awesome last year, and I am so excited to see how much more awesome it’ll be this year! See you there

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I used to be a very avid bowler. In high school I would go bowling at least twice a week, and I was obsessed with it. I still try to hit the lanes once a month!

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Nicephoros the martyr is my favorite saint. He is an amazing example of striving to become a better christian. He never stopped asking for forgiveness, he changed his ways and adapted to his situation. He Stayed persistent, even when all hope seemed lost. St. Nicephoros is awesome.

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Anna Sobchak, Real Break Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
School: Southern Methodist University
Majors: Mechanical Engineering & Math

My OCF Story
OCF is a home away form home, a safety net you didn’t know you needed until it catches you. My OCF chapter has been incredible, grounding me and providing life-long friendships. However, the defining aspect of my OCF experience has been Real Break, and I am so excited to share my love of these incredible opportunities with all of you.

An OCF Anecdote
My most incredible OCF experiences have definitely been from Real Break. One instance was during Real Break Jerusalem when we attended Divine Liturgy at the Holy Sepulchre. Pascha is my favorite holiday, and to receive communion fromt he altar in the tomb of Christ, at a time of day that reminds me of the Resurrection Service…that is just one instance of how unique and life-changing Real Break can be.

Interests
ballroom and swing dancing, reading, and spending time outside or with friends or (best situation) with my dog

A Message to My Fellow Students
Hi y’all! I am so excited to be the Real Break Student Leader for this coming year. my OCF story has been filled with amazing brothers and sisters in Christ, some that I see at church every Sunday, and others that I’ve met through our National Programs, such as Real Break. Whether it’s dancing through the streets of Thessaloniki, praying on the coast of the Sea of Galilee, or hiking of up tot he monasteries of Meteora, these are the moments that have defined my college experience, and I can’t wait to share that with all of you.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I’m actually a total dork. I would happily stay up all night playing video games such as Super Smash Bros.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St Martha & St. Anna–can’t decide

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Benjamin Solak, Publications Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
School: University of Chicago
Major: Comparative Human Development
Minor: Russian

My OCF Story
There is no OCF chapter at my school, which is pretty crummy. The lack of an Orthodox community really leaned on me my first year, so I got involved with OCF at the national level and applied for the Publication Student Leader position in 2016. I was very blessed to get the position and it was super fly. Apparently I didn’t do an awful job, ’cause I’m back for a second year–just a chapterless boy writing stuff about OCF splendidness. Two of those words aren’t real.

An OCF Anecdote
I played that written telephone game (someone writes a phrase on a card, they give it to you, you have to draw a picture of the sentence, hide the sentence, and give it to the next person, who has to write a sentence of the picture, etc…) at the Midwest Regional Retreat. College Conference Midwest Student Leader and certified legend Peter Savas was next to me. I honestly don’t remember what was so funny–Elias Pagones was involved–but we were in stitches, man.

Interests
Watching football, and then writing about football, and then reading the comments written by the people who didn’t watch the football, but still know more about the football things that I watched and about which I wrote.

Also fishing.

A Message to My Fellow Students
God will never be far from you–you ought to get to know Him, best you can. These are formative, refining years for us: the values we define, the practices we entrench will take long strides into the next stages of our lives. Living a life with God in the core, raising a family in the Church, your salvation? Those begin today. Get pumped.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
Sometimes I get nervous on airplanes.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Thekla, Equal-to-the-Apostles

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Mark Saber, Media Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
School: University of Houston
Major: Media Production

My OCF Story
My favorite thing about OCF is definitely the people. I love getting to meet and hang out with other Orthodox peeps. It’s such a great community.

An OCF Anecdote
My best OCF memory is the 2017 South Region retreat. Those spiritual talks with Fr. Symeon were a doozy. And who could forget everyone’s canoe shenanigans… good times.

Interests
My hobbies include chanting, making memes, and telling corny jokes.

A Message to My Fellow Students
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXsQAXx_ao0

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
Once when I was in church, football player Troy Polamalu walked in and sat three rows in front of me. But wait, it gets better: he made eye contact and smiled — best day of my life. It was simultaneously the saddest day of my life, because he left before I could ask him for a picture.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Niphon of Cyprus – what a guy. Check out his life here.

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Anastasia Lysack, Podcast Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
School: University of Ottawa
Major: Music

My OCF Story
OCF has been my rock over these past few years. Every student knows that university can be a very demanding experience, and my case has been no exception. Not only has OCF been a club through which I’ve met some amazing people, or a welcome break from studying for a midterm with that tough prof but it has helped me to grow in Christ as I grow in my academics. Through OCF, both my mentors and peers have continually challenged me in my faith, and the way I live truly has changed. I’m thankful for this opportunity that I have to serve OCF and I’m looking forward to the coming year!

An OCF Anecdote
The stories I could tell and the experiences that I could share from being a part of OCF the past few years are countless, but one moment I will never forget is actually my very first OCF meeting. It was the summer, before classes had even started yet, and my OCF chapter had organized a barbeque to help welcome all the new students. I arrived a little late, and by the time I got there everyone had already gathered together in a few different groups and were talking amongst themselves. I started to look around, looking for a friendly face, when suddenly a whole group of people came up to me and started talking. They all introduced themselves at once and started asking me questions about my life. It was a little overwhelming, but in the best way possible. Within minutes, I felt as though I had known these people for a while, and I was overjoyed just being in their company.

Interests
reading, singing, piano, photography, spending time outdoors, and teaching others about the Orthodox faith

A Message to My Fellow Students
While college is definitely the time to prepare ourselves for our future careers, it’s also a time where we really develop our character, habits, and become the people we want to be. We’re getting into routines now that will be really hard to break later on in life. So, even though life might be really busy and stressful right now, I cannot encourage you enough to attend church services, participate in the sacraments, and get involved with church-related groups such as OCF.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I can conjugate just about any Latin verb in any tense.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
All of them?? But if I absolutely had to pick I’d go for a three-way tie between St. Paul, St. Kassiani, and St. Anastasia.

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Spyridoula Fotinis, Public Relations Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
School: City College of New York
Majors: International Studies

My OCF Story
I started at a community college with no OCF and three Orthodox churches within 5-15 minutes of campus. We started our OCF from literally the “drawing board,” and it has completely changed my personhood and my spiritual life. Our chapter is mostly made up of non-Orthodox students, and I think that this has helped us all learn how to be loving and understanding of other traditions, while at the same time grow closer to Christ and to each other through an Orthodox understanding and supporting each other through truly the “thick and thin.” Glory be to God!

An OCF Anecdote
Our local chapter decided that after the entire day of services of Holy and Great Friday we wanted to help out at the local OCA parish for their all-night vigil. We took the 12 am to 6 am shift, and at 3 am none of us even knew what the English language was anymore. We would repeat words at least ten times before moving on because we couldn’t pronounce anything anymore… Samaria and Armageddon especially proved difficult.

Interests
Well my life kind of revolves around Church and OCF so… (half-kidding, not really, I’m sure you can relate). Traveling, long road trips, freaking out with excitement over foreign language and cultures, listening to people’s stories, reading, trail running, striving to live in the moment.

A Message to My Fellow Students
Be loving, be open. You never know who’s life you can touch by just casually inviting them to OCF or being able to listen patiently when someone yells at you during a club fair that your Faith is wrong. Be patient and meet people where they are. Ask what they know about Christianity, about Orthodoxy, and be ready to listen, say a prayer, and then respond. Christ is always there supporting you in everything!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I love astronomy, especially coming back from night class when it’s chilly, getting out of my car with my hands full of books, staring up at the clear night sky and taking a moment to breathe. It’s great; along with listening to conversations about quantum mechanics.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Spyridon

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