Shelby Spear

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Elementary Music Teacher at Sunnyside Christian School

Sunnyside, Washington

Class of 2013, Psychology major


Spear is a newly returned Peace Corps volunteer who served in Malawi, Africa. Since September, she has been teaching K-4 general music, fifth-grade band, and sixth-through-eighth-grade band at Sunnyside Christian School in Sunnyside, Washington.

How does your time at SPU connect to what you’re doing today?

I experienced layers of SPU community through my deep involvement in residence life, as a peer advisor and intern, and this became the foundation of my journey in Peace Corps. While I had never imagined myself becoming a Peace Corps volunteer, it became obvious that God had other plans in mind. SPU taught me to more clearly discern his voice in my life, and because of that I was able to step out of the world I knew and embrace a culture and community so divergent from my own. I was shown how to embody community, to really recognize how a successful one forms, and how to appreciate the diversity of each I come across. Life is about building community, a place of belonging at every crossroads we face.

Which SPU faculty or staff member made a difference in your education?

Lynnea Common, assistant director of residence life, was a definite mentor during my time at SPU. She actively encouraged my professional development, and assisted my transition from campus to the wider world. She enhanced knowledge from the classroom with practical application, and gave me insight into the inner workings of SPU and Residence Life. As a peer advisor, I lived within the halls and followed procedures, but as a Residence Life intern I was able to explore the function of community from an administrative level. Lynnea continues to inspire me to seek out community building opportunities in my professional ambitions.

What advice would you give to current SPU students?

Don’t be afraid to stretch, or reset, your boundaries and comfort levels! Don’t wait for the life you want to happen, you have the tools to make it happen.