RONALD (RONNIE) RIFFLE: “I’m a military brat so I was born in California and was raised in Chesapeake, Virginia. We moved around a lot, including some time in Japan and Korea. My favorite place to live in was Buffalo, New York, or living in Japan. Japan is a beautiful culture to live in and seeing how their culture values the importance of people. When I was living in Japan, the most unique aspect was seeing how friendly people were – they genuinely want to listen and help you. The food was also amazing.
“I listened to classical music growing up a part of my family, but around 10-years-old I discovered some other genres including country and 80’s rock-and-roll. Transitioning into my teens, I eventually started listening to more and more Christian music which gave a foundation to understand how God can work in music. Classical music is what I moved out of at an early age but am beginning to enjoy [again] now.
“As a kid, I wanted to be a paleontologist. I wanted to dig up dinosaur bones and study dinosaurs. As I learned more about the field, I realized there wasn’t a lot of money in it and thought, ‘I need a job.’ Being in a military family, military life is what you know so you’re comfortable with it and want to pursue jobs in that field. I really wanted to go to the Naval Academy, but in my junior year did not get accepted. My Dad decided to go on a crazy road trip from Virginia to the Ozarks. We picked different colleges along the route to go tour. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until I worked at a local summer camp as an instructor. This is where I fell in love with teaching. It’s grown from the aspirations of wanting to be a dinosaur digger to the military, but now my passion has become being able to work with students, in setting up their foundations that way. When I was growing up, I still pick out different teachers who have really impacted me, but I remember all my teacher’s names because they cared for me and impacted who I am today.
“The hardest thing about being an instructor was trying to help the students that think they don’t belong. There’s right and wrong, but some of the kids wanted to stay in the grey area of doing some bad things that were the most challenging for me to help them with. I got an email last year from an Eagle Scout who thanked me for teaching him. That was one of the coolest things because if I hadn’t helped him that summer, he probably wouldn’t have been able to see his potential. I received my Eagle Scout in Japan and [am] the first [to do so] in my family with a brother who has just begun working on his project this year. The most challenging part was being a trailblazer. In the boy scout troop in the United States, almost every single high school senior received their Eagle Scout. It was normal to see that level of success in that particular troop. When my family moved to Japan, my scout troop there did not see many Eagle Scouts because most of the juniors and seniors moved out of the community. I was the second of only three that year who received their Eagle Scout, so the big adjustment was seeing the difference between the United States’ version of Boy Scouts and how it functioned compared to how it was run in Japan, which proved slightly more challenging to navigate as a Scout. Another hard part was not having my Dad help as much since he was occupied in the military while in Japan. Since he’s retired now from the military, I’m thankful that he has had a lot freer time to help with my three brothers’ Eagle projects.
“I was one of the founding members of the Student Veteran’s Alliance with my Dad who asked me to be a part of it, on the account of my Facebook usage. I love music and get drawn to it which is how I have gotten connected to First Edition and am currently the business manager. I auditioned my senior year of high school because my Dad received an email about the Regent Singers. Regent was my last choice at the time, but I auditioned anyways, and I ended up getting in because they needed a bass that they didn’t know they needed. This ended up providing me such a wonderful group to be a part of. I was an at-large representative in the College Student Leadership Board and through that, I was elected to the events and programs coordinator position. I had the honor to learn from a great mentor, Kasey Ficara, who had also held the position. I’m also a founding member of Kappa Delta Pi, the Education Honor Society on campus. It’s been pretty busy at Regent, but I love doing what I do in working with the students and groups I’m a part of and just being a part of the community here. It’s easy to lock yourself away in the dorm or even in your house (because I commute) but I’m a heavy people person so that’s not who I am.
“I think my life motto depends on my season, but my big one is a reflection from the Gospels when Jesus was talking with His disciples in Matthew. If God can create the sparrows who are beautiful and have no worries, why should we worry as his most prized creation? This came out of my sophomore season where I was worried about a lot of life and school stuff, which ended in my becoming sick and some major stress. In coming out of that, I’ve learned that you need to be able to not worry – about your future problems. If God can take care of the sparrows, why wouldn’t he take care of his most prized possession? We shouldn’t worry about that.
“Advice for freshmen? There’s a lot. Plug into a church; plug into a family group; establish a routine; and make time for yourself. Don’t forget sometimes joy can be found in relaxation, and always look for joy even in stressful situations.”
John Thomas is a contributor to the Daily Runner.