Rachael Cottle Finds Fulfillment and Faith at UMO
MOUNT OLIVE- It is a common rite of passage for all freshman to have new and exciting experiences when entering college. However, for freshman Rachel Cottle, everything about college life is new- including being back in America. Feeling the call to become missionaries, Cottle’s family moved to Cambodia in 2001 when she was just 10 months-old.
Cottle said, “I grew up speaking English to my parents and Khmer to everyone else.”
Living in several places around Cambodia, Cottle’s family planted churches throughout the predominantly Buddhist country. They assisted at health clinics, on prayer walks, and even created a fitness center in Koh Kong as a way to connect with the community.
As she grew up, Cottle often accompanied her parents on journeys to nearby villages where they evangelized and taught about the importance of personal health. In her high school years, she was more personally involved and journeyed out to evangelize with the children.
“Being missionaries has always been part of my life,” Cottle explained. “While my sisters and I didn’t understand the concept of evangelizing at first, we did know that we were helping others and making a difference.”
Being a light for the faith, Cottle was impacted whenever she saw others come to know Christ.
“Asking Khmer people to convert is a big step,” she expressed. “Seeing others love God enough to be willing to take that step gave me an appreciation for people, both those sharing and those receiving the Gospel.”
Cottle’s family moved back to the US in 2018. They settled in Wilmington, NC. It was Cottle’s senior year of high school, and everything was new and different. She was filled with emotional anxieties that made understanding God’s plan for her life difficult.
“Moving back was a hard transition for me,” she said. “I had panic attacks about school, and eating became a problem.”
Everything began to turn around for the better when Cottle’s older sister, Kailyn, told her about the University of Mount Olive.
“I attended a program at UMO called The Challenge, Discovering God’s Call for Your Life,” she said. “Designed for high school students, the program helped me meet professors and staff, who really cared about seeing me succeed.”
Feeling a deep connection, Cottle enrolled at UMO in August 2019. Having interned at a missionary hospital in Cambodia, Cottle chose to major in the field of recreational therapy. Next semester she will complete her recreational therapy field training, and hopes to one day work with local veterans. “I enjoy connecting with patients,” she said.
As Cottle ponders becoming a missionary herself, she is finding the resources she needs at UMO to help her meet both the spiritual and physical needs of others. Beyond academics, Cottle participates in several faith-based activities on campus, including weekly chapel services, and she assists with the Original Free Will Baptist Church Dinner Program.
“UMO is truly preparing me for life after college,” she noted. “The University has deeply impacted not only my future, but also my faith. During my time here, I have seen and felt God’s daily presence in my life.”
Cottle is the daughter of James and Lynette Cottle. She has two older sisters, Moriah and Kailyn, and a brother, Caleb.
The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has education service centers in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and online. For more information, visit www.umo.edu.