Northwest Nazarene University graduate Haline Freitas sees impossibilities a little differently than most people. “When people tell me that I can’t do something, that something is impossible, I take that as a challenge and will do everything I can to prove them wrong,” said Haline.
That never-give-up attitude will serve her well in the future. Haline (pronounced ah-LEEN-ee), an international studies major, is planning to work with internally displaced persons in Africa. When she does get the chance to fulfill her dream, her return to Africa will be a bit of a homecoming. Haline, originally from Brazil, was eight years old when she and her family moved to the war-torn nation of Angola.
Angola had already been involved in a civil war for almost 20 years when Haline arrived in the east-African country in 1995. Haline recalls spending time with children who had been forced into the armies of warring factions and seeing the scars, both physical and emotional, that the people bore. It was here that her dream of accomplishing the impossible was first developed.
Despite the war raging around her, Haline looks back with fond memories on the seven years she spent in Angola. “I loved my time in Angola,” she remembers. “War was just a part of life. We were safe—we simply had to learn to live differently.”
In 2001, the Freitas family moved from Angola to South Africa where Haline spent a year and a half learning English. This is also where she met the Kniefels, the family who would eventually help her come to NNU and become her adopted grandparents.
Originally from Payette, Idaho, the Kniefels suggested that Haline study at NNU. She would need to overcome the impossible in order to study at an American university, yet Haline had her heart set on coming to Idaho.
Haline began to pray for a way to attend NNU. Due to a very modest income, her parents had saved very little money for her education. However, slowly and surely, money began coming in. Between her stellar academic record, intervening prayer, scholarships and support from people she hadn’t even met, Haline was able to pay for tuition, but her funds were not adequate to pay for housing.
Dr. Barry Swanson was head of NNU church relations at the time and heard about Haline’s predicament. Her need was announced in the bulletin at College Church of the Nazarene, and by the next week eight families had offered spare bedrooms for Haline.
In August of 2005, Haline made the trip from her home in Mozambique to Nampa, moved in with NNU alumni Steve and Susan Butkus, and enrolled at NNU. “I know God put me here to do good, and I plan to do as much as I can,” says Haline, grinning. “When people tell me that something is impossible, I just smile. I serve a God who is bigger than the impossible.”
Haline was chosen by her peers to participate in a radio interview April 17 on KBXL Inspirational Family Radio 94.1 with the host of TV Spotlight Gary Moore. Her parents tuned in on the website from across the world as she shared her story in Boise, Idaho. At that time Haline had understood that because of visa difficulties and traveling expenses her parents would be unable to attend her graduation. Little did she know, however, that Robert and Carolyn Kniefel had arranged for her mother to fly in a week before the ceremony. “I kept hearing, ‘There are no available tickets’ from my mother. I was shocked when she arrived!”
Haline graduated with her 425 fellow classmates on May 10 and said of the ceremony and experience, “Once finals were over it hit me that I was done with college, yet the day I first arrived in the United States to be a freshman at NNU wasn’t even that long ago! I could only dance in celebration. God brought me this far through these many ‘impossible’ challenges; I cannot thank Him enough. He is truly praised for my fulfillment of college, the people that helped along the way and for His grace without which none of this would ever have been possible. Now after graduation I am looking to find a job and one day return to Africa to work in social development, especially among refugees. Above all I want to glorify God with my life; I cannot help but praise Him for His infinite love.”
Northwest Nazarene University, a Christian comprehensive university, offers over 60 areas of study, master’s degree programs in eleven disciplines, accelerated degree programs, concurrent credit for high school students, and a variety of continuing education credits. In addition to its 85-acre campus located in Nampa, Idaho, the University also offers programs online as well as in Boise, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and in cooperation with programs in 10 countries. Founded in 1913, the university now serves over 1,900 undergraduate and graduate students, more than 10,000 continuing education students, and 1,900 high school students through the concurrent credit program.
Photo Caption: From left to right, Haline’s younger sister Deborah, 19, who just completed her freshman year at NNU; Haline; and their mother Nilceia celebrate at the graduation ceremony.