By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
In the recent election season at Patrick Henry College, the opposing sets of candidates for student body president and vice president met regularly for a Bible study. Although juniors Alan Carrillo and Zach Enos won 58% of the vote, becoming the new student body president and vice president, respectively, the losing ticket of juniors Russell York and Logan Spena issued a statement on Facebook that epitomized the Christ-like spirit of fellowship and cooperation displayed by all the candidates:
“First and foremost, no one can tell Patrick Henry College students that they must be divisive. This election demonstrated that character and purpose can revolutionize the way that anything operates. From the outset, both campaigns dedicated themselves to acting out of Christian love and charity. We committed ourselves to mutual respect and constructive dialogue. For four weeks, we ran campaigns that fundamentally disagreed on important issues - but never became divisive or bitter. We encourage Alan and Zach to make strength of character a defining aspect of their administration.”
Alan Carrillo, 2011-2012 student body president-elect
But the best way to understand PHC’s new student body president is through Carrillo’s role as vice president of the International Justice Mission (IJM) campus chapter at PHC—and more recently, as an Investigations Intern at IJM itself. IJM, according to its website, “is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression.”
Carrillo’s passion to bring justice and compassion to the helpless consumes his spoken conversation as well as his Facebook profile. Alongside IJM club president Natasha Malik, Carrillo has helped raise awareness of the tragedy of modern-day slavery through fundraising, movie and documentary screenings, and events such as the recent Break the Chains 5k managed by the student IJM club and assisted by the PHC Alumni Association.
Carrillo vividly remembers the first time he realized his life mission was to pursue justice. At a camp at age twelve, he saw a friend being bullied.
“I grabbed the 14-year-old who was bullying my friend, and I yelled at him to stop,” recalls Carrillo. “After that, another friend told me about Proverbs 31:8-9, to ‘open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.’ I knew this was what I was supposed to do.”
This initial vision came more clearly into focus through the 2007 movie Amazing Grace, about William Wilberforce’s successful battle to end the British slave trade. Carrillo was stunned to learn that slavery still exists today, with 27 million humans enslaved worldwide in the most desperate of circumstances.
“I heard about IJM my senior year of high school,” Carrillo adds, “but I thought this was something that would come at a later season.”
Zachary Enos, 2011-2012 student body vice president-elect
“IJM is purposeful about developing its employees professionally and spiritually,” says Carrillo. “They put trust in their interns. They assume we will arrive possessing a level of expertise. I have been helping develop security policies to help our field offices overseas operate smoothly.”
This past weekend, a 5k race spearheaded by freshman Kira Clark and organized by the College’s IJM club and the PHC Alumni Association, raised several thousand dollars to donate to IJM and for the IJM club to use to put on other benefit events. Some 75 people ran the race, including at least a dozen community members.
“People from the community who knew little about PHC and nothing about IJM came out and heard what we are about,” states Carrillo. “We are hoping to repeat the event and expand on it each year.”
In general, looking toward the next year as student body president, Carrillo and Enos say that they want “to foster a culture of unity on campus.
“I think we’re already there; I want us to sow into this culture,” muses Carrillo. “We can maintain unity in purpose and passion while holding different ideas. I think the campaign season demonstrated this, as we all ran campaigns focused on love, charity, and service, whether we won or lost. I hope we can build trust both in the student body and between the students and the administration.”
Appropriately enough, the other presidential candidate, Russell York, also transitioned straight from campaigning to planning a summer biking trip across the United States to raise money for orphans in the Ukraine.
“I am humbled by how this election turned out,” Carrillo says.