Nikki Gentry grew up in the small, quiet town of Newnan, Georgia. She was a popular girl in high school and served on a competitive cheerleading squad. After graduation, she was headed to Mercer University in Macon, where she was set to cheer for their Division I athletic program there, as well.
God had something else in store for Nikki.
“I was intrigued almost immediately. I couldn’t get over how friendly and happy everyone was,” she said. “To be honest, I was kind of surprised there were so many different kinds of people there. Everyone was smart and talented and seemed to be extremely grounded. I’m not sure what I expected from Preview Day, but any expectations I had were exceeded during that visit.”
After sitting through a class at IMPACT 360, Nikki knew that she wanted to stop just talking about her faith and start living a more godly life. She wanted to really know what she believed, and why. “The students and teachers were having these incredibly deep conversations, and I wanted to be a part of it. This wasn’t a youth camp or leadership retreat. It was real, and I felt as though I had found something I had been missing all my life.”
Preview Day allowed Nikki to spend time with students, attend classes and see firsthand the many different ways students at IMPACT 360 define community. “I grew up going to church all my life, but I don’t think I had ever experienced true, Christian community until I saw it at IMPACT 360. It was obvious that the students didn’t just accept all the things they were being taught; they discussed Christianity and culture, asked questions, and then worked together to find answers… and that’s cool.”
Nikki entered the 2010 class at IMPACT 360, and again, her expectations were exceeded. Throughout her nine-month adventure, she was immersed in a learning environment committed to a biblical worldview, leadership, service and community that she says changed her life forever. “The leadership at IMPACT 360 allowed me to ‘find my own way,’ but reminded me almost daily that IMPACT was just a launching pad for what’s next.”
Through self-evaluation and vocation assessments during her final semester at IMPACT 360, Nikki was able to discover things about herself that would help her begin to take flight.
“I visited Liberty University at the urging of some of my teachers and mentors, and fell in love. I knew I was supposed to follow my heart here, and that’s what I did.”
Nikki is now a senior at Liberty, studying Public Relations and Psychology. She is also a Resident Assistant and small group leader at the school. On top of that, Nikki works with the first grade girls at her church and serves on staff at IMPACT 360, helping her alma mater connect with current and future students through various communications campaigns and marketing initiatives.
“IMPACT 360 helped me realize that I was created to speak Truth into the lives of others. You know when you are operating out of your ‘sweet spot,’ and I have no doubt that God has me exactly where I am supposed to be.”
During the summer months, Nikki works as the Sr. Camp Worship Speaker at WinShape Camps for Girls in Mt. Berry, Georgia. She hopes to one day be able to speak full-time and spend her life sharing God’s love and grace with various youth groups and faith-based organizations throughout the country.
“I would have never thought that I would enjoy getting up in front of people and leading, but I can find no greater joy than using God’s gifts in my life to encourage others to do the same. I owe a great deal to IMPACT 360 for helping me realize this dream I never even knew I had.”