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Finding Her Way

Mission trip in Kenya inspires student-athlete’s dream of helping special needs youth

Jordan Redmond, a special education major, used part of her mission trip in Kenya to work with special needs students. SUBMITTED BY JORDAN REDMOND


Inspiring Innovation: Stanford University beach volleyball player Jordan Burgess joined Cardinal discus thrower Sina Javidan-Nejad to create Overtime, a nonprofit designed to inspire student-athletes and children across the nation to dream and innovate. The idea is to invite youngsters to campus once a week to team up with athletes from various sports.

Providing Safe Havens: Campbell University has partnered with Room for Grace, a nonprofit founded by women’s lacrosse assistant coach Jessica Moulton that provides short-term, rent-free housing to families in emergency situations. The group recently helped a family that lost a home to fire.

Concordia University Texas student Jordan Redmond is back at school with a new perspective. A few months ago, the special education major found herself working with special needs students in Nairobi, Kenya.

For Redmond, also a middle hitter for the Tornados women’s volleyball team for the past two years, the humanitarian trip to Nairobi was nothing like she expected. From serving the street youth population with a local organization to working in a slum where she witnessed six or seven people living in a space about the size of a standard American bathroom, it was a life-changing experience.

A highlight of the trip for Redmond was her time at the special needs school interacting with teachers and seeing their passion for students. Oftentimes, special needs children or parents of special needs students are outcasts in society, she says. This school not only serves the students but also helps provide jobs for their caregivers.

“The kids just got so excited to see people come and visit them; a lot of times they don’t get a lot of attention,” Redmond says. “It was also kind of heartbreaking to see the lack of resources that they have, especially for special education. In America, we have so much technology and ways we can support the students, but in Kenya they have to make do with what they have.”

Redmond felt inspired to serve in November after attending the Beautiful Feet Mission Conference held at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska. Good friend Kailey Zieschang, whose father, Dan, is connected with Lutheran Social Services, had traveled to Kenya before, and Redmond begged to join the next trip to experience mission work firsthand. The pair spent from May 19 to June 3 in Nairobi and the surrounding areas serving however and wherever they could.

The final night Redmond was in Kenya, she also had a chance meeting with incoming Tornado student-athlete Hanah Singer, who will also compete in volleyball. Singer was in Kenya serving with her church.

After playing basketball at Southern Arkansas University her freshman year, Redmond transferred to Concordia University Texas, where her mother, Jana, had played volleyball and her father, Todd, had played basketball. She didn’t compete in either sport her sophomore year but joined the volleyball team the next season, finishing with 442 kills and 150 blocks and gaining American Southwest Conference accolades in her two seasons.

This fall, Redmond will study special education methods and practicum in a classroom setting. She will begin student teaching in the spring, with her duties split between a Lutheran school for general education and a public setting for special education.

“I just love being around kids, period, but I really do have a passion for Lutheran education,” says Redmond, who is targeting the elementary age group for her future career. “My dream job would be to find a Lutheran school and help build a special education program there.”

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