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.

If you’d like to apply to be a part of the Student Leadership Board, fill out an online application! All applications are due May 9th, 2014 for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Get to know your 2013-2014 leaders!

Tanya Schillawski, North American Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
University/College: Northeastern University
Majors: History & Psychology

My OCF Story: My freshman year, my OCF was just starting, and we planned what we called a “Holy Week World Tour,” when on each night of Holy Week (which was also our finals week) we went to an Orthodox Church of a different jurisdiction. Since I go to school in Boston, we were able to go to Greek, Antiochian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Albanian, and OCA parishes. It was an incredible experience, all preparing for Pascha with different traditions and hymns, but one unifying faith. Afterward, I got much more involved in OCF.

n OCF Anecdote: I was the chairman of CC-East in 2011, which was completely different than anything that I’d done before. It was learning experience, and included numerous missteps and mishaps. Two years later, people still talk about the speakers they heard, and the ideas that led them to learn more about different topics they hadn’t been interested in before. Knowing that people felt spiritually recharged and inquisitive after the conference allowed me to see the work in a new light, and really appreciate the work and struggle that the committee put into it. So, two years later, hearing people talk about the conference that the committee and I put our heart and soul into has been a highlight of OCF for me.

Interests: Reading, baking, traveling, playing tennis, white water rafting

A Message to My Fellow Students: Be present in everything that you do, whether it is OCF or your schoolwork, and remember that we’re here to serve you in all that you need.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Mint Oreo. With twice as much oreo.

Kiana Leanne Murray, Northwest Student Leader

Year in School: Freshman
University/College: Oregon State University
Major: Biology/Pre-med
Minor: Nutrition

My OCF Story: I have grown in the Orthodox faith without the support and understanding of kids my age. 13 years of public school without other believers like me was a cross for me to bare and now going into my freshman year of college I am able to enter into the OCF and be connected to orthodox believers that our my own age. This is new to me like it might be to some of you but with God guiding us we can all live for Him instead of ourselves.

An OCF Anecdote: I will be just as new or newer than the rest of OCF so I don’t have any anecdotes YET but I’m excited to create some this year!!

Interests: Helping others, math, linguistics, physical activity, british television, Russian history, music (all the time), reading (all the time)

A Message to My Fellow Students: Don’t be afraid or hesitant in matters of faith. If you don’t know, ask. If you’re unsure, seek. God will always have the answer, you just have to ask.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Kiwi Sorbet

Pat Lynch, Southwest Regional Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
University/College: Pasadena City College
Major: Business/Machine CAD/CAM Technology

My OCF story: College is such a formational time for the young adult. He/she is open minded, ready to learn, to grow, to make new friendships. It’s at this time when the Church needs to be right there at the forefront, providing community, fellowship, answers, and much more to its college-age members and reach out to those inquiring. What an opportunity! OCF means the future and wellbeing of the church to me.

An OCF Anecdote: OCF College Conference West 2011 was me and my brother’s first OCF event. We enjoyed great fellowship and made lots of friends. My brother made a really good friend. In fact, he just got married to her June 29th this year. See my fellow men? You really can find a wife at College Conference!! :) haha.

Interests: I’m a prototype machinist for NASA at Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, CA. We build the Mars Rovers! I play several instruments, mainly bass and electric guitar. I love cooking!

A Message to My Fellow Students: It’s a time to come together! In a world with more ways to communicate and interact, we have never been more disconnected and separated from each other. But there’s an answer to that: the Body of Christ. In the church we find true community and fellowship, something the world is hungry for and something we can bring them, but we must first come together ourselves! As regional student leader this year it will be my goal to strengthen and bolster our OCF chapters, making them a place where one can find strength in fellowship, relief from school’s academic and social pressure, a safe place to ask questions and express one’s self, and a community to build lasting and meaningful friendships. If you need me, I am there for you.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: MooseTracks, but with like 10x more fudge swirl.

Nicholas Wacks, Mountain Regional Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
University/College: University of Colorado – Colorado Springs
Major: Computer Science

My OCF Story: My local OCF chapter was only just chartered this last fall semester.  Since starting, we’ve been able to meet on a weekly basis during the school year for prayer an fellowship.  It has really become one of the highlights of my week, and I would encourage any Orthodox students to be a part of this ministry in whatever way they can.

An OCF Anecdote: This last College Conference West was my first time being at an OCF event beyond my local chapter. It was a wonderful experience getting to know other Orthodox Christians, and to get to hear from the wonderful guest speakers.

Interests: In general, I find just about anything interesting, so long as I’m with someone who enjoys whatever it is we’re doing.  I mostly enjoy spending good quality time with friends and family

A Message to My Fellow Students:

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Raspberry Sorbet (the kind you’d find in a second hand store)

Paul Shannon, South Regional Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
University/College: Texas A&M University
Major: Political Science
Minor: Communications

My OCF story: My Journey in OCF began freshman year. I was very involved in my church’s youth programs. I wanted to stay involved even though I was off at college. I was fortunate enough to have friends in the OCF at Texas A&M who helped me connect in to the local chapter. From then on I was blessed to be able to participate in many OCF programs both with my local chapter and beyond it in events such as retreats, service projects, Real Break program, and services . I have also been blessed by the opportunity to help other while serving in various officer positions both locally and nationally. OCF has provided me the support need to stay involved with both my church and my friends during the crazy life of college student preparing for military service!

An OCF Anecdote: My favorite experience in OCF so far was my Real Break trip to Constantinople. While there I and my fellow students were able to help Christian community in Turkey while at the same time very greatly growing spiritually. I discovered the deep roots and strong foundation of the Orthodox Church. All the stories of all the saints became so much more real after that. It gave me a better understanding of how our Lord works not just a little bit here and there but has a plan for the whole earth. This in some strange way gave me to realize how much He had worked in my life individually.
Interests: Army ROTC, Corps of Cadets, woodcraft, Arthurian Literature, water activities

A Message to My Fellow Students: Remember our Lord made you for a purpose. Allow him to guide you to that purpose and then work with him to achieve it.
If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Tin Roof

Thano Prokos, Great Lakes Regional Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
University/College: DePaul University
Major: Secondary Education

My OCF story: I love OCF because it’s helped me connect with other Orthodox students and it’s helped me not only find a place in college that I can belong to, but it’s given me something that I can work for and be proud of.

An OCF Anecdote: One of my favorite activities in my local OCF chapter was organizing a prayer vigil for the two kidnapped Syrian bishops that was open to the entire University.

Interests: Reading, writing, walking, television, music, movies, Greek things

A Message to My Fellow Students: Working with OCF has become one of my favorite parts of college. It’s helped me meet more people and given me a community that I can call my own. I want every Orthodox student to have that experience and I want him or her all to leave college with a real love for their faith.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Unicorn

Nike Pappas, Southeast Regional Student Leader

Year in School: Sophomore
University/College: Clemson University
Major: Environmental Science

My OCF story: OCF to me is an extension of a GOYA but for more mature kids. I love being silly and making new friends, but also like being able to have an adult/serious conversation with someone and the fact that they will listen and support you.

An OCF Anecdote: A great experience we had was having a Lenten picnic at the Diakonia Center. Also, when we met up with the Furman OCF for dinner that was fun as well.

Interests: I like being outside. Hiking, kayaking, frisbee, riding my bike with friends of course! I also enjoy hammocking. Sometimes pet therapy is needed (especially being away from my pets) so occasionally I’ll go to a pet shelter just to be around animals.

A Message to My Fellow Students: Don’t be intimidated by the church or feel like college students can’t participate in an organized college ministry! Get involved because fellowship and faith is best shared with your peers. I am excited to serve on the Student Advisory Board!

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Baklava vanilla crunch with honey

Andrew Abboud, Mid-Atlantic Regional Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
University/College: University of Pittsburgh
Majors: Biological Sciences & Religious Studies
Minors: Chemistry & Russian and Eastern European Studies

My OCF Story: OCF has helped me to grow as an Orthodox Christian. As a freshman, I travelled with a Real Break trip to Constantinople to do mission work in a dilapidated cemetery. Since then, I have been actively involved as the Mid-Atlantic representative for the SAB.

An OCF Anecdote: One of my favorite OCF memories is having a giant snowball fight at college conference, and then warming up after with a trip to Sheetz.

Interests: Intramural soccer, research, University Tour Guide, traveling

A Message to My Fellow Students: OCF for me has been about the connection we all share – the Church. My hope is to help you all connect with each other, to make lifelong friends, and to grow together in our faith.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be:

James Maccone, Northeast Regional Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
University/College: University of Connecticut
Major: Biology

My OCF Story: At the end of my session at the Ionian Village, one of the counselors, who went to Hellenic College/Holy Cross College took all of our email addresses, and she registered us to receive OCF’s “Headliner” Newsletter and one of my friends in my cabin said that we’ll meet at College Conference, and that would be our reunion. At College Conference, I met the then-SAB chairman, who was also the president of my local chapter, and she convinced him to join their OCF and also apply to be on the Student Advisory Board.

An OCF Anecdote: I loved College Conference-East this past year, both seeing people I knew and those I didn’t. It was such a big group of people, and you knew everyone through someone else. It was the simplicity of it all: we’re college students, and what are we doing on our break? Sledding, having a talent show, playing minute to win it games, going to Wal-Mart late at night. We were enjoying the simpler things in life, and everyone was happy.

Interests: Swimming, skiing, golf, soccer, drawing, cars/racing

A Message to My Fellow Students: Be yourself, because that’s who God wants you to be, and that’s what true friends will love you for.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Pistachio chocolate mint

John Dixon, College Conference East Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
University/College: West Virginia University
Major: Computer Engineering
Minor: Computer Science

My OCF Story: OCF is honestly the best part (besides Church) of my week. My school life is so cluttered and stressful, and it is nice to have something to get away to and learn about my faith with my fellow Orthodox Christians.

An OCF Anecdote: As a group, WVU’s OCF took a trip to Coopers Rock, which is a beautiful forest region in WV. As I looked out over the cliff side with my fellow OCF members, I was able to see God’s beauty in nature for the first time in years.

Interests: Playing the cello, playing video games, reading books

A Message to My Fellow Students: I promise that I will do my best to make this year’s College Conference the best that has ever been seen in the history of OCF.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Bacon

Jonny Braun, College Conference West Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
University/College: St. Katherine College
Major: Music Composition

My OCF Story: Friends, friends, friends! Being in OCF has enabled me to meet an eclectic group of friends. I view these friends as people I can go to for anything, people who can come to me for anything, and above all, people who really try to live Christian lives every day. College Conference is by far my favorite OCF event – great food…and great friends!

An OCF Anecdote: Traveling to Cal Ply San Luis Obsibo’s awesome OCF with an amazing group of OCF students from all over South California. Together, we went line-dancing, hiking, beached-it-up, celebrated Palm Sunday Liturgy at a pan-Orthodox parish, and just got to know each other – all in a weekend during spring semester.

Interests: Writing music, basketball, drumming, running, piano, volleyball, singing and guitar

A Message to My Fellow Students: You are all awesome people and our friendship is such a treasure. I am glad to know you and you have greatly helped me solidify my faith in Jesus Christ. Thank You.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Peanuts, Chocolate, Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Cup with Peanut Butter Sauce

Kamille Perry, Real Break Student Leader

Year in School: Junior
University/College: Rice University
Major: Political Science/International Relations

My OCF story: Growing up without youth in my parishes, OCF was a beacon of light for a community of Orthodox outside of my summers at the Antiochian Village. Having opportunities life College Conference and Real Break have really helped strengthen and confirm my faith through real work and discussion.

An OCF Anecdote: College Conference 2011, I had the opportunity to hear Fr. Anthony Messeh speak and truly was able to learn about theological practice in a practical avenue.

Interests: I really enjoy film, music, and spending my summers that the Antiochian Village.

A Message to My Fellow Students: OCF has a lot of resources and opportunities to offer, so be sure to take advantage of that!

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Chocolate mousse

Tashie Leva, Headliner Student Leader

Year in School: Senior
University/College: University of Connecticut
Major: Physiology/Neurobiology
Minor: Neuroscience

My OCF story: OCF is so important to me because it keeps me connected to other Orthodox Christians around the country and reminds me that there are hundreds of college students as passionate as me. It gives me a great support system while away at school and is my home away from home.

An OCF Anecdote: College Conference blew me away seeing all 250 students singing and chanting during Liturgy and I loved meeting people of different jurisdictions. It was such a rejuvenating experience and way to start off the New Year.

Interests: Playing the tuba in marching band, swimming, biking, racquetball, hiking, skiing

A Message to My Fellow Students: Stay in touch with fellow Orthodox Christians from other parts of the country and build your friendships with them; they are the ones that will last.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Coffee and toffee

Eddie Ryan, Social Media Student Leader

Year in School: 2nd Year Masters
University/College: University of Connecticut
Major: Biomedical Engineering

My OCF Story: I knew almost nothing about Orthodoxy when I first came to the University of Connecticut as an undergraduate. However, a friend encouraged me to attend a meeting of our local chapter, and I’ve been there ever since, with me becoming more heavily involved each year. It even helped me to make the decision to convert to Orthodoxy in 2012. OCF has been a fundamental part of my college career, and I can easily say that it has saved my life spiritually, and actually even contributed to saving my life physically part way through freshman year.

An OCF Anecdote: I guess I’m just a fan of the little things. Some of my most memorable moments in OCF are not necessarily from large conferences, lectures or workshops, but from the smaller, more casual events with friends from my own chapter or from other nearby chapters. Being able to share a meal, watch a movie, or even just share a conversation leads to a lot of laughs and friendships that can last a lifetime.

Interests: Whitewater kayaking, climbing, hiking, photography, music, computers

A Message to My Fellow Students: Being active in your faith during college is hard. But OCF provides a resource that can make the challenge far less daunting. Take advantage of the opportunities your chapter, your region, and the North American office offer, and with a little bit of patience and an open mind, you can contribute to the spiritual growth of college students everywhere, both current and those who follow in your footsteps.

If I could be an ice cream flavor, I’d be: Chocolate, peanut butter & banana