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Fulfilling Christlike Dreams: A Desire for Gospel-Oriented Education

Jessika Santoso, a junior majoring in TESOL from Indonesia, describes how her family values and desire to become a teaching English as a second language (TESOL) educator and life as a gospel-oriented student led her to BYU–Hawaii.

Portrait of Jessika Santoso.
Photo by Bilguun Enkhbaatar

Finding Christ-centered Values

“It’s always been my dream to go to BYU–Hawaii,” Santoso said, emphasizing how her desire came from her family’s influence in her life. She adds, “My father really valued education, and college education is hard to come by in Indonesia. My sisters, Aniela and Kenisha, also went to school in BYU–Hawaii, which I saw helped them develop their careers after graduation.”

Besides family, Santoso also noted how complicated it was to enroll in a local university in her home country. Enrolling in BYU–Hawaii allowed her to seek refuge amongst fellow members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, creating an environment of Christ-centered values. “In here, you can get your education while being surrounded by fellow Latter-day Saints. It’s the safest place I can be.” Santoso said.

Portrait of Jessika Santoso.
Photo by Bilguun Enkhbaatar

Refined as a Student Leader

After enrollment in BYUH, Santoso spent her freshman year with her sister by her side. She describes this year as more manageable than her later years, as she leaned on her sister for support. “Once she graduated, I just tried my best to make it easier. I’m kind of a reserved person, but I learned to socialize more, starting with the Indonesian club members.” Santoso said.

In 2021, Santoso paused her studies at BYUH to serve as a missionary in the Indonesia Jakarta Mission, returning to campus in 2022 after 18 months. She describes a significant change in her personality, influenced by her mission experience. “I became exposed to other cultures besides my own. I became more confident. I became more of a student leader. Overall, I gained more guidance on what kind of person I really wanted to become.” Santoso states, highlighting how she learned to embrace the BYUH environment better.

Talents and Skills for Charity

A significant impact that BYUH has had on Santoso is that it allowed her to redefine her career plans. “I finally knew what I was going to do, and that was to become a translator for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Indonesia,” Santoso said, now having a clear goal for her future. She adds, “Having a temple near here influenced me to be better at counseling from our Lord Jesus Christ, allowing me to have more sacred prayers, with further confirmations on what I need to do.”

She also testifies that one’s talents and skills are enough reasons to help other people, noting how her career path can be used to serve others: “I enjoy doing charity. What initially led me to TESOL was that learning and teaching English is in high demand in Indonesia, so for me, teaching English to fellow Indonesians is a form of charity work.” Santoso said, focusing on the fact that one can be self-focused but also thoughtful of the needs of those around them.

Portrait of Jessika Santoso.
Photo by Bilguun Enkhbaatar

Being an Example for Others

Speaking about how she plans to give back to BYUH after she finishes, Santoso emphasizes how the easiest way to do so is to just live your life as the Savior did. “The simplest thing one can do to give back to BYUH is how you present yourself. The people who surround and work with you will see it, especially those in the Church.” Santoso said, signifying the importance of setting an example to others.

She also testifies that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ that holds BYU–Hawaii together, saying that it is “The natural way. This school gives you the opportunity to be much closer to the Savior Jesus Christ. It helped me actively contribute to my community, especially to the youth and my fellow young adults.”

Jessika Santoso’s influences in her life—from family to environment—have allowed her to gain the blessings of a college education here at BYU–Hawaii. Her singular drive to help people by teaching the English language has shaped her into a valiant student and an excellent disciple of our Savior, testifying to everyone that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, He can help us grow into better versions of ourselves.