The new Compass cohort stood swallowed in the middle of a towering high-ropes course. Ty Spencer ‘24 was among the group with wide eyes and thoughts racing: “There’s absolutely no way I’m getting on one of these.” But up he went, and as he kept going, he “got more and more comfortable, not thinking about falling, but how to get from here to there.”

Ty Spencer, far left, with part of his Compass group on their La Vida backpacking expedition in the Adirondacks of NY.

In a recent interview with La Vida reflecting on his ropes course experience, Spencer shared, “I think doing the high ropes course helped me phase out whatever fears I was going to have,” which not only came in handy for the rest of his expedition, but for lessons of trust that spanned from his choice to be a part of Compass to his college decision.

Spencer participated in Compass the summer before his senior year of high school, right as the pressure was on for college applications, resumes, and making choices for academic success. “At the time I applied for the Compass program, I was actually supposed to be going to a program at Yale that was happening at the same time.” However, when his mom got an email about Compass and pointed it out to him, his thoughts wavered. Up to the point of trying to do both programs at once, Spencer eventually had to make a choice between the two. 

Seeking wisdom through prayer, he shared that “what it came down to was the idea of growing in faith, and that regard was more important than academics.” Looking back, it turns out that the “academic program was actually going to touch on some of the things [he] had been doing in school, so it would have been repetitive.” At this point, Spencer knew he had made the right call. He said, “the most important aspect was the development of faith and knowing that God could bring something great out of the fact that I put my trust in that decision.”

A little over a year later, God has continued to work in lessons of trust for even bigger decisions. In the midst of scoping out Ivy Leagues and taking three Advanced Placement classes his senior year of high school, Spencer remarked that Compass was “what propelled me to apply and eventually come to Gordon … I was looking at so many different colleges and I said, ‘God you showed me so many things … you’ve laid out this path in so many ways, how could I not trust you again?’

Now, Spencer is a first-year student majoring in Biblical Studies, inspired by classes he took during theology week which opened him up to the importance of Scripture. Spencer is also a part of the Global Honors Program as well as the Club Development committee for student government. One of the biggest parts of his Gordon experience, however, is having a good roommate.

Ty participating in team-building activities with his Compass cohort.

Seth Larson ‘23 and Spencer were a part of the same Compass group, and are now roommates in the hall where their Compass Mentor, Katherine Santulli ‘17, is the Resident Director. For Spencer, this too is a reminder of what it means to trust God. Spencer reflected on coming into college with a roommate who he knew from Compass, saying “With all the uncertainty that’s going on now in this environment, this was a situation that I didn’t have to worry about.” Spencer and Larson knew each other well due to Compass, from sharing life stories on trail to having international expeditions together in Iceland. Spencer affirmed that “knowing I would have Seth was another way of God showing me Gordon as a place to be,” and “if he needs anything he knows he can call me and vice versa – it’s good to be able to trust somebody in your space.”

Ty with now roommate Seth Larson on their Compass trip.

Spencer has noticed that it is all too easy to live life forgetting how every moment is a chance to grow in faith. “I think a lot of times being a Christian we can get so complacent and just go with the motions. But when God gives us opportunities to step out and do something we’re not comfortable with, he can provide a lot of guidance and wisdom.” For Spencer, “La Vida was probably one of the most uncomfortable things I have ever ventured into, but for that reason, knowing how much I got out of it reminds me of how much can come through uncomfortable situations later on. … When you’re doing those things you just think back to the idea that you chose La Vida as a trusting moment and [you can see] all the ways God has provided.”

Article by Electa Sutton ’21, La Vida Intern. Electa has served with La Vida since she started at Gordon almost 4 years ago, taking on roles like the Rock Gym Senior Staff, Sherpa in the ADK’s and Adventure Pursuits Facilitator. She’s currently working as the Communications Intern for La Vida during her senior year at Gordon.

To learn more about the Compass program, visit: