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 2016-2017 Board!

Emma Solak
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
Kathrine Sackllah
South Student Leader, southstudent@ocf.net
Nicole Petrow
Midwest Student Leader, midweststudent@ocf.net
Spiro Morris
Great Lakes Student Leader, greatlakesstudent@ocf.net
Niko Wilk
Southeast Student Leader, southeaststudent@ocf.net
Rachel Howanetz
Mid-Atlantic Student Leader, midatlanticstudent@ocf.net
Spyridoula Fotinis
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
Oana Grigoras
Real Break Student Leader, realbreakstudent@ocf.net
Benjamin Solak
Publications Student Leader, publicationsstudent@ocf.net
Dan Bein
Media Student Leader, mediastudent@ocf.net
Isabella Calpakis
Public Relations Student Leader, publicrelationsstudent@ocf.net


Emma Solak, Student Leadership Board Chairman

EmmaYear in School: Senior
School: University of Pittsburgh
Major: English Writing (nonfiction) & Religious Studies
Minor: French

My OCF Story
OCF has given me some of my fondest memories, best friends, and incredible opportunities of my college career. Whether it be at our Pitt/CMU weekly chapter meetings, College Conference, Real Break, a Regional/District Retreat, or a blog post written by a student guest blogger, I am constantly amazed at the faith and wisdom of my peers. Their unwavering devotion to the Church and to live a Christ centered life inspires me and encourages me, and they give me more than I could ever give them.

An OCF Anecdote
It’s so hard for me to pick one! I love College Conference, especially late night chanting. There is something so peaceful and prayerful about sitting in the church at 2 in the morning in your pajamas cuddled up next to your friends from across the country listening to the hymns of the Church. The sheer honesty and power of 300 college students’ voices united in song to God is beyond words.

Interests
Reading, napping, singing, eating, traveling, football, having one sided conversations with my dog, trying new recipes in my Crock Pot

A Message to My Fellow Students
I’m extremely excited and honored to be serving as the SLB Chairman this year! My biggest message to students is to get involved. Go to a Regional Retreat, College Conference, or on a Real Break trip. Start actively participating in your chapter and if you don’t have one, start one! You’ll meet amazing people, learn about the Faith, and grow as a person in Christ. It’s never too late to start!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
During my baptism, the priest realized he didn’t have any chrism so they had to put the service on hold to drive to another church to get some.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Emilia, the woman had nine children and five became saints. Goals.

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David MunkresNorthwest Student Leader

13246420_10204589950388632_4155340880391939275_oYear in School: Junior
School: Boise State University
Major: Communications

My OCF Story
I love OCF because it is my Orthodox community on campus. The Orthodox friends I have there are some of my closest friends despite the small number. It is a way to engage with my faith and build community.

An OCF Anecdote
My favorite OCF memory was attending a retreat in Twin Falls, ID. A local parish called St. Ignatius flew in Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick. It was only two OCF members, our spiritual advisor, and a few host parish members, but it was a grace-filled trip. We are trying to attend this retreat yearly.

Interests
dancing Argentine tango and hiking the Boise foothills

A Message to My Fellow Students
Always stay engaged with your Orthodox peers in college. It is a hard time to stay connected to the Church with classes, work, clubs, and other extracurriculars. Someone’s faith and salvation may be impacted because of an OCF chapter or lack of one. We are all God has to work with. Strive to strengthen your chapter so that it can be there in ten years. What can you do to ensure it is still around in 25 years?

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I play 5 musical instruments: guitar, violin, mandolin, bass, and some drums.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. James, Son of Thunder

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Markayla Stroubakis, Southwest Student Leader

IMG_5790Year in School: Junior
School: University of California – Berkeley
Major: Nutritional Science

My OCF Story
OCF has not only been a place where I have grown as an Orthodox Christian, but it’s a place where I’ve built character, befriended amazing people, and been inspired through sharing the Orthodox faith with others. OCF has always been there for me in my times of need, and I wish for everyone to have that experience. I’m very excited to lead the Southwest Region for the second year and looking forward for the great things we can do together in Christ!

An OCF Anecdote
Last year was my first year at College Conference and I honestly wish I could write all four days worth of it here. But 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, Byzantine chant, exploring San Francisco, baking, cooking

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

QuinnYear in School: Sophomore
School: University of Wyoming
Major: Communication
Minor: Business

My OCF Story
Growing up in such a small town in a small state with few Orthodox Christians my age, I value the friendships I have been able to make through metropolis and national programs. OCF played a very important role in my transition from high school to college, and it has also helped to strengthen my spiritual life while I am at school.

An OCF Anecdote
I participated in Real Break Alaska in 2016. We went on many hikes, but during our first hike, I had to stop to catch my breath, and all I could think about was getting to the top of the mountain. A few moments later, I realized I was so focused on getting to the top, I wasn’t taking the time to look around and appreciate God’s creation with the other sixteen people that came on the hike.

Interests
I love to play tennis, travel, and cook!

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…
In the past six years, I have cut twelve or more inches of hair off twice to donate!

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

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Kathrine Sackllah, South Student Leader

KathrineYear in School: Fourth
School: University of Houston
Major:  Public Relations
Minor: International & Global Affairs

My OCF Story
I got involved with OCF once I started college. A year later, I went on my first Real Break trip, which was one of the best weeks of my life. Upon returning, I got more involved with my OCF chapter. OCF is important to me because it acts as a spiritual relief from school. OCF has helped me to stay intact with Orthodoxy throughout the last four years of my college life, as well as grow more in the Faith.

An OCF Anecdote
Debriefs with Fr. John Cox and the Real Break Alaska Crew ‘13 every night. The two hours (sometimes more) spent having spiritual discussions every night was the highlight for me. We all grew closer towards one another and toward Christ through them.

Interests
I enjoy being outside, as well as drawing. Activities include teaching dabke to youngens.

A Message to My Fellow Students
College is a long and difficult process, but it will all be worth it in the end! Don’t give up, and remember: “You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you” Philippians 4:13.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I’m a pro parallel parker.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Catherine & St. Mary of Egypt. I couldn’t chose just one!

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Nicole Petrow, Midwest Student Leader

NicoleYear in School: Junior
School: Creighton University
Major: Classical & Near Eastern Civilizations & Classical Languages

My OCF Story
OCF holds a very special place in my heart. It was with the Creighton chapter that I finally felt at home as a college freshman, and as a member of the SLB, I have been blessed with the opportunity to expand my OCF community and experience Christ in new ways every day. OCF has become for me a constant source of love and support that I cherish during these short college years.

An OCF Anecdote
The past two years at College Conference, I have been powerfully moved by the vitality and strength of this organization Venerating the miraculous icon of the Kardiotissa and celebrating Paraklesis alongside such truly faithful and inspiring people, my heart was set on fire with love. By getting involved, I discovered the wide world of OCF and all of the love and support it has to offer.

Interests
I love to travel, read, listen to music, participate in my sorority 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…
Ironically, in 2013, I was elected Pope of my all-girls Catholic high school in a mock papal conclave.

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

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Spiro Morris, Great Lakes Student Leader

SpiroYear in School: Senior
School: Michigan State University
Major: Microbiology
Minor: Beverage Science & Technology

My OCF Story
OCF is my Rock. When school weighs down on my shoulders, it is easy to forget what is most important in life. OCF is a beacon of light in my week that reminds me that there is always hope no matter what challenges I face. OCF is a door in your college life; if you choose to walk through it, Faith, Hope and Love will shine in your heart.

An OCF Anecdote
College Conference is amazing! I can’t think of any better way to spend Christmas Break than by staying up until 5 AM chanting!

Interests
music, photography, backpacking, and shaving 🙂

A Message to My Fellow Students
School is a challenge, and it should be. The hours you spend studying and reading your textbooks are hours well spent, and it will pay off. But there are 168 hours in a week; spend a couple of them doing something you love! And if going to church and praying wasn’t the first thing to come to mind, then spend a few hours doing that, too. Don’t let college be an excuse to put your faith on the back burner. If you can maintain an active prayer life and even go to church on Sundays, you will be all the more equipped to handle any challenges thrown your way.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I research Pseudomnas aeruginosa populations and their virulence factor distribution in the Red Cedar River (on MSU’s campus).

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Nektarios of Aegina

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Niko Wilk, Southeast Student Leader

NikoYear in School: Fifth
School: University of North Carolina – Charlotte
Major: Architecture

My OCF Story
OCF is the ministry that has kept me close to the Church and has aided in my spiritual maturity. I love OCF because it unites all Orthodox Christian students together, regardless of jurisdiction, in worship, fellowship, and service. God has guided me to events like WorkDaze in order for me to feel the love and support from brothers and sisters in Christ. Since starting the UNCC chapter, it has enabled me to make Charlotte a better experience in order to be surrounded by a spiritual family.

An OCF Anecdote
The chanting in unison of “Agni Parthene” (Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride) was an experience I will never forget from College Conference East ‘15. It felt as if we, as souls, had transcended towards the angels in Heaven. The YouTube video online does not do it justice.

Interests
singing, drawing, running/working out, reading books, traveling & exploring rural/urban areas, poetry, dancing

A Message to My Fellow Students
Being in college is a very vulnerable time in a young adult’s life. When exposed to the carelessness in the secular world, understand that Christ and the Church are there to guide you every step of the way. Even during times of loneliness or emptiness, reach out to the Church and put your trust in God’s will. God works in mysterious ways and has the ability to help you grow spiritually. He has helped me in ways I would have never imaged. Glory to Him!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I have an obsession with maps. Since I have a love of travel, I am fascinated by shapes of the landscape show in maps, as well as how cities are designed onto them.

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

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Rachel Howanetz, Mid-Atlantic Student Leader

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

My OCF Story
I was very involved in Teen SOYO throughout my years in high school, and I knew that when I chose a college there had to be a nearby Orthodox church and an OCF established on campus. I knew it was going to by my time to take my Faith into my own hands; no longer was I going to be able to completely rely on my parents. Once I started school, my OCF friends quickly became my family away from home, and the time I get to spend with them continues to bring the most beautiful peace into my hectic college life. I know that what I have learned from weekly OCF meetings, district/regional retreats, College Conference, and Real Break have helped shape me into the person I am today, and I will forever be grateful for each of these precious experiences.

An OCF Anecdote
Choosing to participate in Real Break Romania was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Being able to experience a predominantly Orthodox Christian country was simply amazing. The faith, love, and humble personalities of the people of all ages was so inspiring to a young Orthodox Christian like me.. Our time spent with the children at Pro Vita Orphanage was such a blessing, and the pilgrimage to the capital city of Bucharest where we got to visit the numerous churches and monasteries and venerate various relics of the Saints made the trip an unforgettable experience.

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

A Message to My Fellow Students
Use this time that we have in college to connect to your Faith on a stronger and deeper level. You can do this in many ways: pray more, attend services more often, etc. but always remember that you can never do it all on your own. Whether it be families at the church near your college/university or your OCF friends and spiritual advisor, know that they, along with Christ and the Saints, will be there for you through it all. Also, take advantage of all the programs, retreats, and opportunities offered through OCF. They are always a breath of fresh air during a busy school year. I look forward to seeing and meeting many of you at these different events, and I pray that your upcoming school year will be blessed!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
In 8th grade, I was a part of an exchange program to England!

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

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Spyridoula Fotinis, Northeast Student Leader

SpyridoulaYear in School: Sophomore
School: County College of Morris
Major: International Studies

My OCF Story
Orthodoxy has always been central to our family’s life. When starting school at the nearby community college, I knew that I really wanted to start an OCF. There is an OCA parish across the street from the college, the Greek Orthodox parish is a mile away, and the Carpatho-­Russian Orthodox parish is a few minutes away. Already a blessing! The first semester was very difficult. It was only the priests, me, and my best friend (who is not Orthodox) just supporting me as a good friend, along with a handful of others. We became a temporary club, but never met the requirements. At the end of the semester, I felt alone, disillusioned, and doubtful that we could ever begin an OCF on campus.

In December, I went to College Conference East. I loved every single moment of it and came back home rejuvenated to start an OCF on campus. God truly put the right people in my path, and with a beautiful retreat for young adults, even my non-­Orthodox best friend was 100% on board. We worked hard to re­charter our club, made posters with Panagia on them and put them all over campus, created OCF business cards, more events, and set­up a table at the club fair. By God’s Grace and the guidance of the wonderful people He brought together, our OCF has grown immensely and is becoming a well-­known club on campus! It is truly a blessing because our OCF ministers to many Orthodox, but mostly to those who are non­-Orthodox, those questioning their own faith, and even those who have no faith background at all. Without OCF, I don’t know where I would personally be, but even more, it is such a blessing to see how much of an impact Christ’s love has made on campus. Glory be to God!

An OCF Anecdote
When our fledgling OCF made an appearance at our campus club fair, we were praying that at least one person would stop at our table. But we were completely wrong. Our table was one of the busiest tables, as claimed by the booths next to us. We had constant traffic of people from all faith backgrounds, questioning what is this Eastern Orthodox Church? We even ran out of handouts explaining the Orthodox Faith and had 10 people sign­up, with only one being an Orthodox Christian. Each person who stopped by had an amazing story to share, and they came to the table to talk about their Faith and to ask questions. Even after the fair, for weeks people would approach me, asking about OCF and if they could ask me questions about our Orthodox Faith and share their own experiences or doubts about various religions. At the end of the semester, we were even awarded “The Most Welcoming Club on Campus”. What a blessing!

Interests
Reading, running, traveling, serving others, discussing how to make the world a better place for all and philosophizing about life over a cup of tea with friends.

A Message to My Fellow Students
Never stop putting your trust in Christ and “let everything you do be done with love” (I Cor 16:14). No matter how difficult something may be or whatever problems you may run into, remember with God ALL things are possible and everything works out according to His Will. Never give up and don’t be afraid. Pray and continue to work. If you are doing something fueled by your love for Christ, everything plays out, without fail, way better than ever expected. Truly live your Orthodox Faith, you never know who could be affected by Christ’s love and come to seek Him.

If you don’t have an OCF, don’t be afraid to start one! “With God all things are possible” (Matt 19:26). “Love casts out fear” (I John 4:18). You may even grow exponentially in your relationship to God and others.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
causally freak out everytime I hear another language being spoken… I love languages (if you couldn’t tell)

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

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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 joined OCF right away in college and found a weekly haven from the stresses of college life. I’ve been to College Conference East and Real Break Thessaloniki and through these experiences have made so many friends.

An OCF Anecdote
On Real Break Thessaloniki 2015 venerating the grave of St. Paisios and visiting the cave St. Gregory Palamas lived in for 5 years. The whole experience of being in a land immersed in the Faith and meeting the most humble, hospitable, and God-loving people on this trip. I made sure to write in my journal every night and I still look back on that journal and treasure my experience there!

Interests
I’m in an Arabic dancing group at school. I also love eating, reading, and ultimate Frisbee.

A Message to My Fellow Students
When you devote yourself to Christ above all else, even amidst the struggle and stress of life, you will find perfect joy and peace from our God. I implore you all to take action! Get involved and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, that’s where true growth will come. Be with people who will influence you to be the loving, compassionate, and empathetic person God made us to be.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I LOVE to dance. When I’m at home I don’t walk, I just dance everywhere. Also cold showers >>> hot showers.

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

NoraYear in School: Fourth
School: Wichita State University
Major: Human Development/Psychology
Minor: Music Performance

My OCF Story
I love OCF because it has brought the light of Christ into my college life in a way that is specifically oriented to a college campus and environment – exactly what I needed. OCF has enabled me, through its various gatherings and activities surrounded by worship, education, service, and fellowship (the four pillars of OCF), to be provided with a network of support by peers who struggle with the same life difficulties that I do. This is unique to OCF because it is not easy finding other spiritually like-minded individuals in the College setting, and I am extremely grateful!

An OCF Anecdote
During College Conference West last year, for a Paraklesis service, we had a group of females on one side and a group of males on the other, chanting, led by our female (Greek) and male (Antiochian) liturgics leaders. By Grace of God and through their leadership, we were able to do a combined Antiochian/Greek-style Paraklesis smoothly, and it was one of the most purely beautiful services I have experienced! (Not to mention, more than HALF of the attendees of CC West 2015 were in the chanting choirs. That is a lot of students!).

Interests
composing music on viola/piano/vocals, writing, performing in acting and music, health, exercise, teaching children about Orthodoxy through Sunday School, VBS, church camps, etc.

A Message to My Fellow Students
You can always find hope, even if you think you have none, because Christ is Hope, and you are made in the image and likeness of Christ. Remember, as St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain says, “Desire and effort must come from you; God will provide the strength and results.”

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

IMG_4991Year 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
Every year before winter break, we all go over to the church and put up all the lights around the outside of the church. It’s a lot of fun, some good team bonding, Father orders pizza, it’s a good time. Well, there is a huge tree in the front of the church and we have to put the lights up, so Father told me to go grab a ladder and climb up the tree. Before he knew it I was up about 20 feet climbing the branches beyond the ladder putting the Christmas lights up. So, naturally he took a picture, sent it to my parents to give my mom a heart attack. So, I caught some grief from my mom, but at the end of the day the lights looked great!

Interests
Beyond OCF, I am involved with Loyola’s Hellenic Student Association (HSA). My sophomore year, I served as the club’s Secretary, and this year I will be the club’s “Cultural Director”. 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. There is a lot of overlap between HSA and OCF, so if you are in HSA then basically you are also in OCF.

Another group that I am involved with is call “Labre Homeless Ministry”. It is named after St. Benedict Joseph Labre, a Catholic saint of the poor. Labre aims to be in solidarity with people experiencing homelessness. 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, so for that I am immensely thankful.

A Message to My Fellow Students
Hey guys! I look forward to working with you and getting to know you throughout the year, and I can’t wait to be a part of College Conference Midwest and share in that experience. I hope to see you all soon!

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. Paraskevi. She is my patron saint, and she is a perfect example of the strength of faith, and to do it all as a woman is even more impressive.

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Oana Grigoras, Real Break Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
School: University of Pittsburgh
Majors: Biology & Religious Studies
Minors: Chemistry & Global Studies

My OCF Story
Before coming to Pitt, I had a very specific list of things I was looking for in a college, and an OCF chapter was not on that list. They say God works in mysterious ways, because I honestly cannot image what I would’ve done without the support system of my OCF family, especially during those times of difficulty and vulnerability that I’m sure we’ve all encountered in college at some point. I am so thankful for this ministry because not only have I made friends for a lifetime, but I have also had the chance to experience God’s love through each and every one of them.

An OCF Anecdote
I had the blessed opportunity to go on the Real Break Jerusalem trip this past spring and it truly was a life-changing experience. When I came home, everybody wanted to hear about my trip and although I had plenty of stories, I still felt like my words would never do justice to how powerful and moving my experience was. I encourage everyone to go on a Real Break trip (and I’m not just saying that because it’s my job!) 🙂

Interests
playing tennis, hiking, traveling, reading, baking, eating, playing with my research rats

A Message to My Fellow Students
The four or so years we spent in college are some of the most important because we put in a lot of hard work to achieve our career goals, but sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves spiritually. It is important to note that college can also be a time in which we become better witnesses to our Faith and develop our Orthodox voices. OCF has a lot of great resources that can help us share God’s will with the rest of the world. Everybody should get involved!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I was born in Sibiu, a city in Transylvania, but unfortunately I have not inherited any vampire genes.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Luke the Blessed Surgeon

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Benjamin Solak, Publications Student Leader

BenYear in School: Sophomore
School: University of Chicago
Major: Undeclared

My OCF Story
I love OCF because I know that Orthodoxy is a communal faith and by celebrating it together, we grow closer to God. I recognize OCF as a tool that can truly cement the faith as our own, help us posses it, champion it, as we grow into young adults and take on more responsibility as God’s apostles and children.

An OCF Anecdote
At CC East 2015, they ran out of supplies for my Minute to Win It game, so I ran “Story Time with Ben” and just told stories about how I met various people at CC until time had expired.

Interests
Football! (Philadelphia Eagles) Love to read, write, and play Tetris. Distance Runner. Personal Development. Chocolate Chip Cookies.

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…
I’m actually Captain America, just pre-super soldier serum.

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

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Dan Bein, Media Student Leader

DanYear in School: Senior
School: University of Pittsburgh
Majors: History, Psychology, & Arabic
Minor: Religious Studies

My OCF Story
OCF is a safe space to grow and a place where you can recover love that you think you lost. We’re supposed to love one another and OCF is a place where that happens. It also facilitates spiritual growth through its wealth of programs, retreats, trips, etc. OCF is more than just weekly gatherings, but it’s the Body of the Lord.

An OCF Anecdote
I joined OCF in the middle of the year, so you might think that everyone’s friendships were already formed, but everyone at OCF opened their hearts (and arms!) to me. It made no difference how long I was there because everyone was authentic, and I was continuously impressed by how genuine the OCFers were in our discussions.

Interests
I like to read, eat, exercise, and sleep. I also like to hang out with my friends and go to church.

A Message to My Fellow Students
Never lose hope. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is crashing down around you, but maybe you need that to see the sky. Try not to judge your life so hard. Persevere and you’ll see it to the end. Regarding OCF, join your chapter because it has changed my life and I know it will for you too. If you dislike your chapter, work to make it better! The Lord will bless your work, if you do it in humility.

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
In high school, I did my Eagle Scout project at a cemetery. They lost their records, so we wrote the names down, took photos of the tombstones, and used Google Maps to make a directory, kind of like a phone book, but these people wouldn’t pick up the phone.

My favorite saint (other than the Theotokos) is…
St. Abanoub. He’s a Coptic saint who was martyred when I was 12. I also love St. Moses the strong, St. John the Baptist (since I was born on Old Calendar Theophany), and the Prophet Daniel, obviously. Finally, I’m partial to the Prophet Elijah. I’ve got too many to count!

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Isabella Calpakis, Public Relations Student Leader

IsabellaYear in School: Senior
School: University of North Carolina – Charlotte
Majors: Economics & Communications
Minor: Public Health

My OCF Story
I love OCF because it enhanced my college experience in a way I had never expected. When my friend and I decided to start an OCF chapter at our university, we had no idea it would lead to lifelong friendships with peers that became family. College is one of the hardest times to remain close to the Faith, and I believe OCF allows us to stay grounded.

An OCF Anecdote
This past spring, I was able to participate on the Real Break New Orleans trip. Along with three fellow friends from CrossRoad ‘13, I made 13 other best friends in what was the best week of my semester. Through my peers and the work we did, I learned more about God and my faith than ever before.

Interests
reading, photography, travel, playing with my yellow lab

A Message to My Fellow Students
“Let go and let God.” College can be stressful and often times overwhelming due to all the life changes. However, it is most important that we turn all of our worries over to God, for He will always provide. And always remember OCF friends are family!

One interesting thing about me that you wouldn’t be able to guess is…
I’ve been shark cage diving with Great Whites in Africa!

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

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