Eimee Ponciano: Trusting God in the Uncertainty

by Nathan Foster

When Eimee Ponciano ‘24 is confronted with big decisions, she turns to the one who has always steered her in the right direction—God. Ponciano has been presented with many opportunities at Azusa Pacific University. Although she faced uncertainty in these moments, she decided to go for it each time with no regrets. “My biggest advice for young students is to take a chance on things you might not normally do and trust God. For me, that’s being an honors student, an alpha leader, and a resident advisor,” she said. “I’m normally a more quiet and reserved person, but these experiences and programs at APU have brought me more fulfillment than I’ve ever known.”

A first generation college student, Ponciano’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Guatemala. Ponciano’s grandfather started a nondenominational Spanish church, Iglesia de Cristo Unidad Familiar in Florence-Graham, when she was a young child. Today, her father and grandfather serve as co-pastors. “I was literally raised in the church,” she said. “But it wasn’t until middle school that I really found my own faith. I felt God’s presence and my faith grew from there.”

Ponciano applied to many colleges across Southern California, wanting to stay close to home. She chose APU after feeling a strong connection to her counselor. “I had a lot of questions. She just kept answering them happily and asking if I had any more,” Ponciano said. “I really liked that. That was something I didn’t get from any other school—the personal touch and dedication from the staff.” This support from faculty and staff proved pivotal for Ponciano since school often felt overwhelming. “Everything was so new to me. I didn’t know anything about credits or how to get the classes I needed,” she said. “I overcame these challenges by admitting I needed help, not trying to do everything on my own. The GEN1 Scholars and TRIO programs have been invaluable, especially the advice from my mentor Armando Bustos.”

Ponciano entered her freshman year undeclared, enrolling in the exploring program. Although she didn’t know what she wanted to study for her primary major, She boldly decided to join the Honors College and double major in humanities. “I was a little intimidated at first. I felt like everybody in honors was a genius and I didn’t think I had much to offer,” she said. “But I felt God calling me to do it. It’s been a great experience. I love hearing all the insights my classmates have to offer, showing me things I never would have thought of during colloquy.” Ponciano has enjoyed reading great texts including Homer’s Odyssey, Dante’s Divine Comedy, and Milton’s Paradise Lost. “I’m able to learn so much about philosophy and theology without majoring in those subjects. I love that aspect.”

After taking an introductory course, she decided on Psychology as her second major. Ponciano’s favorite course, Abnormal Psychology taught by Stephen Lambert, PsyD, was full of key information she’ll use in her career. “It’s easy to get distracted by how fantastical some of these illnesses are, but professor Lambert always made sure that we remembered these are real people we’re working with,” she said. “This isn’t a movie you’re watching or a book you’re reading. This is real life and you need to treat everyone with grace and respect.”

After finishing her freshman year virtually, Ponciano looked forward to experiencing APU in person, commuting from Watts to Azusa. Presented with another opportunity that was out of her comfort zone, Ponciano chose to go for it again, becoming an alpha leader. “I loved helping my alpha group members, but I wanted to go deeper,” she said. “So I decided to apply to be an RA.” Ponciano got the job, serving as an RA in Engstrom hall during the 2022-23 school year. “I want to be of service to my freshmen,” she said. “To be there for them however I can.”

Ponciano looks forward to being the first in her family to graduate from college. “My parents came here to give a better life to their children,” she said. “Graduating from college is what they dreamed of for my sister and I—we’re their living wish. I may be the first in my family to graduate from college, but I certainly won’t be the last. It makes me happy to see their dreams come true.”

Nathan is the public relations manager in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement.