When ten year old Camille first laid eyes on the big swimming pool at the then Grace International School campus, she excitedly exclaimed, “I want to go to school here!” Even when she was put on the waitlist and her parents considered applying for other schools, she stubbornly said with firm conviction, “I want to go to Grace. That’s my school.”
Not only was her child-like faith rewarded, but God had amazing plans for both her and GIS because ten years after Camille Thurston (Class of 2012) graduated from GIS, she is now working for Grace International Educational Foundation (GIEF) while raising her own support. Her job is to do fundraising and recruiting for all of the partner schools under GIEF. “Four years with Grace isn’t enough,” she says. “I wanted to stay connected with the school even after graduation. I just didn’t expect to be serving not just Grace but other Christian schools all over the world too!”
Camille always had GIS in her heart. Every time she met an education major at college she would tell them, “Have you ever thought about teaching abroad? I know this amazing school in Chiang Mai, Thailand!” Her passion for GIS stems from her own personal experience. Having parents who are international Christians workers isn’t always easy and Camille has her own personal struggles growing up. Coming to GIS in the fall of 2008 was a turning point in her life. She says, “I had teachers who really cared about me. They didn’t want to teach just academics but also about life and God. It really made a huge impact on my life—so much that I continually prayed about how I can help Grace in any way that I can.”
In 2017, then Development Director Jon Foltz and Bradley Favazza (Class of 2007) who is currently the Director of Administration at GIEF asked Camille to help host an event in her hometown in Oklahoma. She jumped on the task with enthusiasm and spoke to her church about GIS. At that time, she did not think her involvement with Jon and Bradley would go any further but in 2019, GIS Founder Gene Foltz reached out to Camille about GIEF looking for new board members. Feeling that God was calling her to serve on the GIEF board, she took a leap of faith and accepted the offer saying, “I love GIS and the vision of why schools like GIS exist. It’s an honor for me to serve with GIEF.”
It is because of Grace International School that the children of international Christian workers like Camille are able to grow both academically and spiritually in an inspiring learning environment. She is now able to use the tools and experiences gained during her time at GIS to impact different ministries through assisting Christian schools around the world.