Student Spotlight: Anissa Kraybill

One of our favorite things about AHU is the diverse backgrounds of our students. We talked with Anissa Kraybill, who has lived a fascinating life growing up outside of the US with her missionary parents in Africa and France. Learn about her unique experiences after having spent a year living and studying in America.

Name: Anissa Kraybill
Nickname: N/A
Program: Occupational Therapy Assistant
Hometown: Clermont, FL (but born in Paris, France)
Favorite thing to order from NESS Café: Chicken Tender Wrap

Why did you choose OTA?

My dad was an OTA, so I grew up with it and learned about it. But I became really interested my senior year of high school when I shadowed an OTA at a hospital in Kenya. I wanted to help people in a different way than being a doctor or a nurse. I wanted to help them get back to their regular life. If they have had a surgery, helping get them back to what their life was like before that, or something close to it.

How did you find out about AHU?

I just found out about it on the internet! I was just looking into different OTA programs...and thought it looked good. I had never heard about this school before, so we visited…and thought it was the best one. I was open to everything, but after touring I realized that I wanted the background of the faith-based school. The mission of the school and the importance of service were definitely factors.

What do you like best about AHU?

Probably the community. It’s a small college - you can get to know people. And the professors are amazing. They really care about you. In OTA, I’ve worked with Vicki [Case], Angela Sampson, and Susi [Rodd]. I really love being with Susi, she’s so much fun. We’ve been doing Matthew 25 class, where we go to the Hope Clinic, so that’s been awesome. I really like how they provide services to lower-income families because that’s where my heart is – helping under-served populations.

Is there something you are passionate about besides OTA?

People and sports. I like volleyball, swimming, field hockey, and horseback riding. I played field hockey all 4 years of high school.

Anissa with a giraffe in Africa.

You told us that your parents were missionaries so that means you moved around to a lot of places. Which countries have you lived in?

First, we lived in France. Then we moved to South Africa after that for 7 years. Then Kenya for 4 years. We moved back to the States in 2018.

How many and which languages do you speak?

English, some Spanish and French, and a little bit of Afrikaans and Swahili. More Afrikaans than Swahili. I did that in school, so it used to be conversational, but then I didn’t speak it for a long time.

How was living in South Africa and Kenya?

They are really different. South Africa is very modern. Huge cities, very urban. A lot of it is, at least. There are some places that aren’t. It was really fun. It’s very similar to the States in that way. In Kenya, I went to an American boarding school so that was very similar as well. But it was in the mountains in the middle of nowhere. That was really cool.

A close-up shot of Anissa's bracelet representing the Kenyan flag.
Anissa wears a bracelet representing Kenya, where she she lived for 4 years.

How does one year living in America compare to your years in Africa and the other places you’ve lived?

I think the transition has been a lot better than I expected. There were definitely moments that were hard with being really homesick for Kenya and Africa, and missing friends all over, but it’s all been easier than I thought. I think going to an American boarding school helped because it had American culture and...not [that] drastic of a transition. There are definitely different priorities here and in Kenya.

What’s the biggest difference you see?

I would say material possessions. And it’s really in my face all the time. I noticed it even after being here for a year. [The] difference in the word “need”.

What’s another thing that you miss?

Probably the landscape - the actual place. Red dirt. A specific type of forest and trees. Where I lived it was mountainous and forest-y, so I definitely miss that. Especially in Florida. In the states it’s like cold forests; whereas in Kenya, it was warm and sunny and still forest-y. I really miss that. It’s more relaxed there. Slower-paced.

Anissa on a dirt road in Africa.

How do you think your parents being missionaries affected your decision to come to AHU?

I think partly just wanting a faith-based school. Maybe it being really close to home. Family being really important, going to each country with them - it means they are one of the most important things in my life. So being close to them was important to me. All my extended family is here as well as my family.

AHU’s focus is on training for whole-person care. You’re learning to not just treat physical ailments but look at everyone as a whole human, knowing they have more needs. How do you feel your background will help you in implementing this?

Yes, definitely. That’s what occupational therapy is. It’s not just looking at how you broke your arm, but also looking at how this is going to affect you socially, emotionally, and spiritually. That’s what I love about OT and I really, really love that about AHU.

We're so happy that your travels brought you to us, Anissa. Thanks for sharing your story!

Feeling inspired? Come Join us.

Apply to AHU