Terrica White’s life changed forever over Labor Day weekend of 2017. That’s when she suffered a devastating loss that brought her world crashing in around her.
“I lost my husband and my four-year-old daughter in a car accident,” Terrica explained. “And when I lost my family, I felt like I had lost everything.”
Understandably, the weeks and months following the accident were a dark time in her life. But, as Terrica worked through her grief, she began to sense God move her in a different—and somewhat uncomfortable—direction. As a chemical engineering major at Tulane University, she had been able to dig into her love for math and science, but she never really found it fulfilling. Now, she felt the Lord pointing her in another academic direction: New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College.
“God led me to Leavell College in the fall of 2018,” she recalled. “I knew He was drawing me here to serve, but it wasn’t an easy decision. I wasn’t in a position where I wanted to serve God, let alone training at a seminary. But I knew He was tugging at my heart.”
What she found on campus was more than she could have imagined. Along with Leavell College’s commitment to academics, she discovered a place of healing in a community that loved her through the darkness and the pain.
“When I came to NOBTS, most people didn’t know who I was or my situation,” she said. “I struggled with depression. But to have someone love on you and nurture you and teach you what it means to be a disciple and a follower of Christ makes a big difference. It’s a blessing to find people who will hold your hand and walk through the darkest hours with you. We’ve got that here at NOBTS and Leavell College.”
Now a junior studying missions and apologetics, Terrica also works as an administrative assistant in the office of President Jamie Dew. But, while she loves that job, she admits her real passion is a non-profit called Infinite Blessings, which she started a few months after coming to Leavell. Through Infinite Blessings, she is able to fulfill her call to reach people with the love of Jesus, especially children and families from impoverished areas.
“Infinite Blessings was birthed out of me coming to the seminary and having people who poured into my life here,” she explained. “When I came here, I didn’t really have a vision. But this has definitely become my passion. It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of doing, but I just never had the mindset or the encouragement to do it until I came to NOBTS and Leavell College.”
Recently, Terrica has found ways to create partnerships between Infinite Blessings and the NOBTS community, including projects to support Second Harvest and Toys for Tots. For her, connecting the two organizations was a natural way to apply what she has been learning in the classroom. It also gave her a chance to live out the “Prepare Here, Serve Anywhere” motto that has become her mindset thanks to the guidance and mentoring of the school’s faculty.
“I believe that seminary life truly begins outside of the classroom,” she said. “We have teachers who have made commitments to me and my classmates to pursue God outside the classroom. It’s about relationships, and they work with us to cultivate that.
“For example, one of my professors is also my mentor, and she spends time with me weekly. We do Bible studies. I can call her and discuss what’s going on outside the classroom. That’s really where life begins. That’s where we find our mission. That’s what NOBTS is teaching me.”
As a student, non-profit missionary, and seminary team member, Terrica sees the mission and ministry of NOBTS and Leavell College from many angles. That gives her a unique awareness of the needs on campus. And, as someone who has experienced both academic fulfillment and God’s healing power at the school, she recognizes the impact that donors can have through their financial gifts.
“No other school can offer what our professors offer here,” Terrica said. “They don’t just talk and teach the mission. They live it out, and we get to see them live it out. That’s what makes this school so unique and so special. We have professors who live what they preach. It’s a lifestyle for them.”
Terrica admits to seasons of sadness in her life, but the feelings of isolation and depression no longer plague her. The Lord has brought her through a terrible storm, and she has discovered His goodness on the other side. She now has a plan and a purpose that once was lacking. Reflecting on one of her favorite songs, she points out that she has at least 10,000 reasons to praise and honor God.
And she’s grateful for the role that New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College have played in making it all happen.
“Never in my life would I have considered coming to a seminary,” she said. “But our professors give so much here, and I receive so much from them. There is no way I would have made it this far without them and without the school’s impact on my life.”