Tina Ellison: Driven to Serve

by Abigail Elizabeth Peck

At Azusa Pacific University’s core are faculty and staff members committed to serving their community with a spirit of care and authenticity. Exemplifying this calling, APU trolley driver Tina Ellison greets students with a warm and welcoming smile each day, providing convenient transportation from campus to campus while building meaningful relationships. Ellison’s commitment to her job and heart for the students is apparent to all.

For the past eight years, when the red trolley pulls up, waiting students look forward to interacting with Ellison. She recognizes each rider, many by name, and engages them in conversations asking about their classes, families, interests, and hometowns. These genuine gestures remind students that they are seen and valued. Ellison embodies Colossians 3:23 that says to, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

“Tina is an unsung hero at APU. She doesn't need the spotlight to love others and show people they are important,” said Michael Gutierrez ’16. “She does this just by being herself and it enhances people's APU experience. I know it did mine."

Throughout Ellison’s life she has endured many trials, including the loss of several loved ones at a young age. From these difficulties she cultivated a desire to love others in tangible ways. “I wear my emotions on my sleeve,” said Ellison. “I do not ever want people to doubt that I love them. I say it often and I mean it.”

Her love for students shows up in her everyday servant’s attitude. Students come and go over the years, but Ellison’s intentionality to create relationships remains. Ellison serves as a friend, mother, and mentor to those she transports.

Especially close with the school’s athletes, she treats each one like they are her own. Before fall semester, athletes return to campus early for training enabling Ellison to get to know these students and form a special bond. She hosts an annual student barbecue as a way of saying thank you for being a part of her life. When graduation day nears, Ellison takes the time to write heartfelt letters to many seniors encouraging them on their journey ahead.

“Tina is a ray of sunshine to whomever she comes in contact with,” said Andrew Elffers ’16, former football player. “She raises the bar on what it means to truly care for someone with a sincere heart."

“APU transformed my life,” said Ellison. “I get up each morning excited to go to work because of the love and support of our faculty, staff, and students. I just want to give back the love you all give me.”

  • Abigail E. Peck '18 is a public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. She is a public relations major and leadership minor.

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