CEDARVILLE — Why would a student from Anchorage attend a university that’s nearly 4,000 miles from home? Even more intriguing, what about an entire family making that trek for a higher education?
The Luiken family embarked on their Cedarville University journey 17 years ago. After hearing about Cedarville University from a Cedarville alumnus and researching the school, the Luikens found exactly what they were looking for — a university founded on strong biblical and theological principles.
In 2001, Marc and Suzanne Luiken moved their oldest daughter, Holly, to Cedarville from their home in Del Rio, Texas. After arriving at Cedarville University, Marc experienced a unique sense of calm and comfort, knowing that his daughter would be a part of a family of Christian students, faculty and staff.
“I was overwhelmed by emotions,” he said. “I was taking my daughter to a school where she was going to be safe, cared for and taught by people who have sound doctrine and excellent academic rigor.”
Several years after Holly’s graduation with a degree in communications, the Luiken’s were living in Alaska, when their second-oldest daughter, Jessica, decided to follow in her sister’s footsteps. This trip began with more than six hours on a plane. That much time in the air could have taken them from New York to London or from Atlanta to Lima, Peru. Instead, they arrived at Indianapolis International Airport and completed their journey with a two-hour car ride to Cedarville.
Jessica graduated in 2016 with a degree in nursing and is currently completing a Master of Science in Nursing degree with a family nurse practitioner focus through Cedarville.
Abbi and Drew are the two youngest in this family of students. Abbi is a sophomore nursing student and Drew is a sophomore mechanical engineering student in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at Cedarville.
“The fact that so many members of my family are alumni or students was very appealing, but in all honesty, what really attracted me to Cedarville was the opportunity to finish my degree in three years,” Abbi said. “I started taking online classes my junior year of high school, and I realized how much Cedarville really integrated biblical teaching into all of their classes, which I also found very attractive.”
Drew appreciates the support of his family and friends and views Cedarville as his home away from home.
“I have had no lack of support and community since being here, and I am so grateful for how God has blessed me with that,” he said. “The best part about Cedarville is having community of students and who care about your spiritual, academic and overall growth as a person.”
Cedarville’s impact on this family continued to grow when Marc and his oldest son, Tony, decided to enroll in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) last year.
“I have a couple of master’s degrees, but have never gotten an MBA,” Marc said. “And Tony is in a leadership position, so I felt like him having an MBA would be valuable. He and I talked about it and we both decided to enroll January 2018.”
Undeterred by distance and finances, the Luikens are confident that Cedarville has been the best choice for six of their eight family members.
“Being so far away from home is difficult,” Abbi said. “But I know without a doubt that the Lord has me here so that I may grow in Him and learn how to minister to those I interact with on a practical level in my future profession.”
According to Marc, their family’s investment in Cedarville has been “absolutely worth it” because of the school’s community, biblical worldview and focus on training students to integrate faith into every aspect of their lives.
“We are so blessed to be able to leave our children in your hands there at Cedarville, knowing they are encouraged to grow in their faith and learn how they will use their vocations to further God’s kingdom,” he said.