Buena Vista University

BVU Student Wants to Make a Difference in South Sudan

Oct. 10, 2012

Ryan Scheetz, a senior Buena Vista University corporate communication major from Omaha, Neb., has a passion for helping others through non-profit work. In January 2013, he will have the opportunity to help people in South Sudan thanks to the J. Leslie Rollins Fellowship Award he earned in 2011.

To start the New Year, Ryan will be delivering donated computers and Bibles to a refugee camp in South Sudan. The computers will be used to educate the Sudanese and help familiarize them with the technology. Ryan will be documenting much of his experience on video with plans of composing a video about the area and the plight of the people who live there. 

This journey began very locally – when Ryan interned at The Bridge in Storm Lake, a Christian outreach organization. During Ryan’s month-long internship, he worked closely with Peter Omot, a native of South Sudan. Ryan’s passion for working with the Sudanese people emerged in his post-internship reflections.

“When I read Ryan’s final internship paper, I was struck by his passion for service and the story behind his dream to take used laptops to Sudan and to train the locals in basic computer skills,” says Dr. Elizabeth Lamoureux, professor of speech communication. “I contacted him immediately to tell him about the (J. Leslie Rollins) fellowship.” 

The J. Leslie Rollins Fellowship is a highly competitive award given each year to a sophomore to allow the student to develop his/her talents and interests beyond the opportunities in the curriculum of the university. 

“At first, I was a little skeptical whether or not I should go for this fellowship because it seemed so out of reach. Dr. Lamoureux helped me see what was possible,” Ryan says.

When Ryan received the Rollins Fellowship during the Academic Awards Banquet, Jim Burnette, father of BVU senior Rachel Burnette, took note. Burnette works at Heartland Technology Systems (HTS) in Harlan, and he has access to many used laptops. After a discussion with Arlin Sorenson, owner of HTS, Burnette has arranged for an undetermined number of laptops to be donated to Ryan’s mission.

“I am so very impressed with the passion with which Ryan has approached this project. It is not often that one finds such passion for something that brings only marginal advantage to themselves, but instead places value in the long term results which will be achieved for others,” Burnette says. “I am proud to know Ryan and play whatever role I might to help achieve the goal he is striving for.”

Ryan feels a strong calling to make a difference in the lives of others.

“This generation is the generation of change and we have the opportunity to be a part of it. We have the resources, the knowledge, the background, and the information to change many lives. We are a generation with compassion for the less fortunate and now is the time to show it,” Ryan says.

Lamoureux believes Ryan has the right set of skills and drive to lead the charge of change and compassion.

“Ryan’s gifts are many.  He is a good logical thinker and is not afraid to take risks.  The fact that he’s traveled internationally gave me the added confidence that this trip is within his reach. His passion for service will likely influence his future career path,” Lamoureux says.

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Buena Vista University
610 W. 4th Street
Storm Lake, IA 50588
800.383.9600

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