Our Staff

Fellow Followers of Jesus Christ

Neil Walker

Came on Staff: January 1988

Hometown: Choctaw, OK

University Attended: Oklahoma Baptist University

Hobbies/Interests: Sports, reading, outside activities, and spending time family.

Favorite Books: George Mueller: Delighted in God, The Master Plan of Evangelism, Renovation of the Heart, Living by the Book, Lifestyle Discipleship, The Navigator

Favorite Movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, Casablanca, Braveheart, Bourne Trilogy

Favorite Quote: "Why give yourself to something others can or will do, when you can give yourself to something others can't or won't do." - Dawson Trotman

About: I rarely went to church growing up and had little exposure to Christ. Through some friends, I began a relationship with Jesus in high school. I came to college wanting to walk with Him but had no idea how to do that until I encountered some guys who really made it practical. God brought one guy in particular around who took an interest and invested heavily in my life. I began to work to do the same with others. I love working with college students today and helping them discover Christ and the life He alone can provide. I feel like college is a key time of life when students make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives. I am grateful to be a part of that.

Melinda Walker

Came on Staff: January 1988

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

University Attended: Oklahoma Baptist University

Hobbies/Interests: Water aerobics, home makeovers, my family, and finding bargains

Favorite Books: Instruments In The Redeemers Hands (Tripp) Inside Out (Peterson), Facing Your Giants (Lucado), Personal Disciplemaking (Adsit) Kitchen-table Counseling (Volkhardt and Cook), The Complete Guide to Money(Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace U)

Favorite Movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, Return to Me, Les Miserables, Cheaper by the Dozen, Elf, Princess Bride

Favorite Quote: “At times, when we hear a word from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants, when actually what God wants is just simple obedience and faith in Him. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know that it is still God Who moves the mountains. ..Just PUSH! Pray Until Something Happens” Forward by James Christian

About: I grew up in church and when I was 7, asked Jesus to come into my life. I had little understanding of my responsibility to let him be boss of All of me. My parents stopped going to church and divorced when I was a senior. Out of that time, God called me to begin a complete and lifelong commitment to His love and a journey following His lead, not mine. College is where I got the help and Christian community to get to know God personally. It set a foundation and framework I still go back to as I walk through the stages of life. It seems to me, that college years sets some foundation and patterns that many of us live our life by. We hope to help students discover and know God personally. Then, to internalize and share God and His ways with others.

Erin Gillum

Came on Staff: August 2001

Hometown: Durant, OK

University Attended: University of Oklahoma

Hobbies/Interests: Traveling, hiking, exploring LA

Favorite Books: The Life You’ve Always Wanted, Seven: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, The Hiding Place

Favorite Movies: Anne of Green Gables, Pride & Prejudice, What Happens in Vegas

Favorite Quote: “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie Ten Boom

About: As a perfectionistic firstborn, people-pleasing and trying to be good enough has been a driving force of my life. My parents helped me understand that Christianity is not about what I do but what Jesus did for us on the cross. His death and resurrection bridged the gap between my best efforts (which were never enough) and God’s perfect standard. In college, God brought an upperclassman into my life who helped me understand (and modeled for me) that living for myself, my GPA and fun were too insignificant. Cara explained that God was interested in every aspect of my life and He wanted to use me to make an eternal impact at OU. I love working with college students because they are at such an exciting stage of life. They have tremendous potential to influence the world while pursuing their degree and in their future careers. Helping students discover and develop a personal relationship with God, learn how to live life by His standards and pass on what He is teaching them to others is a tremendous privilege and a mission I'm grateful to share in.

Courtney Churukian

Came on Staff: August 2006

Hometown: Pasadena, CA

University Attended: University of Southern California

Hobbies/Interests: sports, movies, baking, surfing

Favorite Books: The Training of the Twelve, Radical, Harry Potter, Eric Liddell: Pure Gold

Favorite Movies: Young Frankenstein, Beauty and the Beast, Remember the Titans, While You Were Sleeping, Penelope

Favorite Quote: “Your life either underlines or crosses out what you say” Max Barnett

About: I grew up going to church but I had no idea what it all meant. I would go through the motions and was confused that my life still felt empty to me, like something was missing. When I got to college I met some friends who actually knew Jesus personally and didn’t just have knowledge about Him like I did, and they showed me that I can have a genuine and close relationship with Jesus and practical ways of getting to know Him better. After going on a retreat with those friends, I committed myself to Christ and while my life has not gotten easier, it has become infinitely better since knowing and choosing Him! I chose to work with college students because I wanted to share the same life-changing experience I had that can happen when you truly encounter Christ and give Him a chance.

Jeremy Walker

Came on Staff: August 2010

Hometown: Monterey Park, CA

University Attended: University of Oklahoma

Hobbies/Interests: Sports, Reading, Movies, Trying new foods

Favorite Books: Concentric Circles of Concern, Living by the Book, Delighted in God, Total Money Makeover, The Insider, Who Moved My Cheese?, Amazing Grace

Favorite Movies: Remember the Titans, The Patriot, Princess Bride, Sandlot, Back to the Future Trilogy

Favorite Quote: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

About: I grew up in a Christian home but was a pretty hard-headed rebellious kid in my early years. I began a personal relationship with Jesus Christ when I was 10 years old but didn't start to really grow in my relationship with Him until I was in high school. I have been around college students ever since I can remember. My parents modeled first hand the importance of investing in the next generation; specifically at the college level when men and women are in the process of shaping their values and perspective that will influence the rest of their lives. When I went to college I got involved in a student ministry where I was able to make lots of friends, including older wiser ones who really loved me and walked through life with me while modeling how to know Jesus better and love people well. It's been my desire ever since to be able to do that with other college students and see them really succeed in life!

Katy Walker

Came on Staff: August 2010

Hometown: Edmond, OK

University Attended: University of Oklahoma

Hobbies/Interests: reading, crafting, being active, coffee shops

Favorite Books: The Hiding Place, God’s Smuggler, anything Jane Austen, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Insider

Favorite Movies: Braveheart, Wives & Daughters, You’ve Got Mail.

Favorite Quote: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot

About: I have always gone to church, for as long as I can remember, sometimes I didn’t know why I even went. I knew for a long time that there was something lacking in my understanding of God. It finally clicked for me when I was about 14 that I had been following a religion and had not yet entered a relationship. When I made Christ my Lord, and Savior, a whole new paradigm opened up to me. I began daily reading the Word, but without someone to regularly train me and show me how to walk with Him, my growth was stunted…until I showed up at the University of Oklahoma. God used the Baptist Student Union and the relationships I made there and at OU to continue to strengthen my relationship with Him and to give me a vision for spiritual multiplication. It is a privilege to see that vision being caught by students at USC as we have opportunity to love, serve and share with them.

Karlene Wagner

Came on Staff: August 2013

Hometown: Ainsworth, NE

University Attended: University of Southern California

Hobbies/Interests: Reading, writing, creating things

Favorite Books: George Muller: Delighted in God, Devil at my Heels, Pride and Prejudice, It Came From Within

Favorite Movies: Sandra Bullock Movies, John Hughes Movies, Ordinary People, Silver Linings Playbook, Pride and Prejudice

Favorite Quote: "If we desire our faith to be strengthened, we should not shrink from opportunities where our faith may be tried, and therefore, through trial, be strengthened." - George Muller

About: I grew up in a Christian home and accepted Jesus as my Savior at a young age. All the way through high-school my priorities were still mixed up. Yes, I would go to church, youth group, and read my Bible; but my relationship with God was not my first priority. Going into college, my focus was still on school and myself. That changed after I became involved with Christian Challenge. God worked through this group and various relationships there to show me that my relationship with Him is the most important thing. He changed my perspective and helped me to see that life is not about making my name known; it’s about making His name known. I look forward to being used by God in the lives of students at USC and am so thankful that He has given me this opportunity to do so.

Eric Siryj

Came on Staff: August 2015

Hometown: Downey, CA

University Attended: University of Southern California

Hobbies/Interests: Playing guitar, sports, board games

Favorite Books: The Lost Art of Disciple Making, Spiritual Leadership, A Life Well Lived

Favorite Movies: Indiana Jones, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars

Favorite Quote: "Don't let what you can't control destroy what you can enjoy." - Tommy Nelson

About: I did not become a Christian until I was in college. Growing up, I knew who God was, but never understood what it meant to be in a relationship with Him. Instead of orienting my life around Him, I put all my efforts into grades and athletics. I was very successful in my pursuits and on the outside it looked like I had everything put together. On the inside, however, I was miserable, discovering that no success in the classroom or on the field would last or satisfy. When I came to USC and started checking out Christian Challenge, I saw a group of people who were living in authentic community, getting to know God and each other, and experiencing a sense of joy and purpose that I did not have but desperately needed. I decided to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ my sophomore year and life has never been the same. I have found that joy and purpose in Him and have now oriented my life around getting to know God and helping others do the same. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with this ministry that means so much to me and share in the adventure of getting to know God with the students of USC.

Enoch Chow

Came on Staff: August 2015

Hometown: Los Angeles and Hong Kong and a few more places I call home :)

University Attended: USC

Hobbies/Interests: Solving Problems, Making Bags, Cycling, Listening to people's stories.

Favorite Books: THE Book (Bible!), Max Barnett Biography, George Muller Biography

Favorite Movies: Black Hawk Down, Julie and Julia (Bon Appetite!), documentaries.

Favorite Quote: “We are changed not by being told what we need to do for God, but by hearing the news about what God has done for us.” - JD Greear

About: Being born in a Christian household, the whole "church thing" was more like a culture to me. I dreaded going to church and I thought God is just an abstract figure, and if he exists he's probably just doing his thing and we mind our own business. It wasn't until after I came to USC as a freshman in architecture school when I met guys from Christian Challenge who loves God and loves people selflessly. Through these guys I saw what it meant to know God personally and to have a personal relationship with Him, and I made the decision to follow Him during my sophomore year. My purpose in architecture school was drastically changed - it went from being "how can I be the best student" to "how I can I help others to become better students." I enjoyed every bit of my time in architecture since then. After working in a great design firm after graduation, I went to East Asia to do student counseling for two years, and during that time I got to see God do great things. I am now back in the Los Angeles area, working in a wonderful architecture office, while serving part-time as staff with Christian Challenge.

Bethany Owens

Came on Staff: August 2015

Hometown: Bankok, Thailand

University Attended: Southwest Baptist University

Hobbies/Interests: Conversations, coffee, and toasted bagels

Favorite Books: Gospel by JD Greer, The Warden and the Wolf King by Andrew Peterson

Favorite Movies: Life is Beautiful (1997), The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Favorite Quote: "Right where you are, God is moving to draw and connect people into the risk and reality of knowing Christ." - qtd by Doug Simmons (Nav Staff)

About: Growing up in Bangkok with American parents, you could say I lived in two worlds at once. Outside the home I spoke Thai with my friends, ate rice and basil chicken, and admired my Thai friends' shiny black hair. At home I spoke English with my parents, ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and asked my mom why I was the only girl in the whole world without black hair. While my friends occasionally went to Buddhist temples, my family went to church every Sunday. And so it was, straddling two cultures and religious worlds, my journey of knowing God first began. From a young age, it was pretty evident to me that there had to be a Creator. My parents taught me about God from the Bible, and I decided to believe in him. I learned that he not only created me but also loved me a great deal more than I could imagine and wanted me to actually know him. However everyone else outside our home had hardly heard of Jesus, let alone read a Bible. Many people told me all religions were the same; they all taught people to be good. So one day I prayed, asking God if he was really real, to help me to know. Over the next several months as I read the Bible, I first found that people can't, in fact, possibly "be good"--that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. This was true for me, as I myself had tried in my own determination to be a "good person" many times and had failed every time. But secondly, I also found something that made all the difference for my faith in God: his grace. I was a hopeless sinner, but because God loves me so much, he sent his only son Jesus to die on the cross many years ago to pay the price for my sin. And because of what Jesus did, although I am a sinner through and through, I am considered righteous before God. And I can know him.

Christopher Dorn

Came on Staff: August 2016

Hometown: Weymouth, Massachusetts

University Attended: Gordon College and USC

Hobbies/Interests: Spending time with friends, Basketball, Frisbee, Adventure

Favorite Books: Radical, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Desiring God

Favorite Movies: Home Alone, The Great Escape, The Prestige

Favorite Quote: “You never know how much you can accomplish until you joyfully attempt more than you could ever imagine.” –Chuck Madden

About: I grew up on the South Shore of Boston and lived in the area until I was twenty (FYI I don’t have the accent!). As an only child I grew up being very close to my parents and from a young age they taught me about God and Jesus. Since I was very young and for as long as I can remember the story of the Bible just made logical sense to me and I believed it was true intellectually. I looked around and saw the world and concluded that there must be a God and that the God of the bible must be the one. So while I always believed in God, I learned during my high school years that believing is very different from following. I believed in Jesus and in my heart knew it was true, but I found myself in some deep pits holding onto certain things in my life that I knew I would have to give up if I really wanted to follow Jesus. It was right before I graduated high school that I committed my life to following Jesus and whatever plans or purpose He would have for my life. I knew I needed Him and that following Him was the best thing that I could ever do. Since making that decision I have grown gradually as a person by getting to know the person of Jesus better, still making mistakes no doubt, but walking in the right direction. Recently I graduated from college, started working as a civil engineer and got married to a wonderful little lady. Christian Challenge helped us both so much during our time at USC so we are super excited to continue to be a part of it and to share life with students.

Samantha Dorn

Came on Staff: August 2016

Hometown: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

University Attended: University of Southern California

Hobbies/Interests: Trying new food/restaurants, Making meals for others, Going to the beach, Traveling

Favorite Books: The Twilight Series, Radical (David Platt), The Insanity of God (Nik Ripken), You and Me Forever (Francis Chan & Lisa Chan)

Favorite Movies: Inception, The King's Speech, Harry Potter Series

Favorite Quote: "My heart, I knew, would be forever a lonely hunter unless settled where true joys are to be found" - Elisabeth Elliot

About: I came to Los Angeles in 2010 for college, leaving my whole family back in Malaysia. Leaving home and coming to Los Angeles has been one of the best decisions I have ever made and I can see how God definitely orchestrated everything. I was born in a family who didn't take religion/God seriously. My parents have always told my siblings and I that we were "free-thinkers" and that they want us to figure out what we want to believe as we grow older. I was fortunate enough to get into a prestigious Christian high school in Malaysia and was exposed to Christianity then. I committed my life to Christ when I was 15 but did not know what that really meant for me or what it meant to follow God. My faith in Christ and walk with God started becoming serious and a real part of my life when I came to Los Angeles and became a part of a church and small group. After I was baptized my freshmen year of college, my mom started exploring Christianity and soon became a believer as well. When I transferred to USC my junior year of college, I started becoming very involved with Christian Challenge and it helped shape me into the person I am today (not perfect, but joyfully seeking the Lord). Being in Christian Challenge has challenged me to become the person God wants me to be and trained me to have good habits that will impact the rest of my life. I feel so privileged to be able to serve alongside some awesome people on Challenge staff and am looking forward to what God has in store for all of us on this beautiful campus!