Student Spotlight: Aiya Gilliam | A Grander Plan

Have you ever looked back on certain events in your life and thought about the purpose behind them? Senior, Aiya Gilliam, is discovering God’s plan for her life as she reflects on growing up in the mission field and her time at Covenant.
Aiya was born and resided in Lebanon for fifteen years while she and her family were missionaries there.  Aiya said that one of the most challenging things about attending school abroad was, “being one of the few Christians at my school, but it really encouraged me to think about my faith and personally own it.” After leaving Lebanon, her family moved to Israel for about six months.  At the time, this was a hard move for Aiya, but she now realizes that it was all part of a grander plan. “When I found out I was leaving Lebanon, I was really sad. I had a wonderful group of friends and an established reputation. I especially did not want to go to Israel because it is at war with Lebanon. I will admit that the move really hurt. However, I am currently at a stage where I can see how everything that happened had a purpose,” Aiya stated. 

Aiya has been a student at The Covenant School for a little over a year now and while it has been very different from her school experience in Lebanon, she has loved the change. “I have enjoyed the smaller classes and personalized attention given by teachers. I love the tight-knit community across different ages.” She is also grateful for the opportunity to engage in many extra-curricular musical and athletic activities. Aiya expressed that, “It might be easy to take all the different opportunities we have for granted. My friends in Lebanon did not have school for a month this year because the country is protesting the corrupt government. While school was academically strong, that was all it was about. We did not have a good choir or organized sports teams. Nobody really knew what a musical was (so as a big Broadway fan, I was thrilled to be able to be in Footloose and Seussical at Covenant). My school in Lebanon did not even have a college counselor, so my friends had to figure out applying to colleges all by themselves. It is easy to go through the motions, but it is important to realize just how much of a blessing it is that we even get to go to Covenant.”

 Aiya has enjoyed most of her classes at Covenant, especially her Math and English classes, but Acapella has become her favorite because “Such a class did not exist in Lebanon or Israel. My choir in Israel met during lunch and free periods and my choir in Lebanon was practically non-existent. Being able to get together with a group of people and glorify God by making music is thrilling. I also really enjoyed Acapella's trip to Austria this year, and it was an experience I will never forget. “

When asked to provide advice to current and incoming Covenant students, Aiya encourages students to, “Engage fully and lean into your classes. Whether it is English class, math class, or Bible class, you will gain so much more by leaning in. Focus on your friendships and build each other up. Finally, start owning your faith. It might be easy to get drawn into the whole "I'm a Christian because I go to a Christian school" narrative. However, it is important to really have a personal relationship with Jesus. This is something Covenant encourages and I think it is extremely important for thriving.”

After graduation,  Aiya will be attending the University of Virginia but is undecided about the exact course her future will take. Planning to take it one step at a time, Aiya says, “I think I might study foreign affairs and work on journalism or become a professor. I would also like to be involved with the theatre world at UVA.  However, those are all just ideas and I will really just see where God leads me. I can confidently say that God does have a plan for my life, and if He did it for me, He can do it for you too!”

The Covenant School

Birdwood Campus | Lower School | Pre-K–Grade 5 |
1000 Birdwood Road Charlottesville, VA 22903 | 434.220.7309

Hickory Campus | Middle and Upper School | Grades 6–12 | 175 Hickory Street Charlottesville, VA 22902 | 434.220.7329
Located in Charlottesville, VA, The Covenant School is a non-denominational, private, Christian day school for Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, visual and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.