Growing up in Indonesia, Biola University alumnus Gavin Susantio (’21) dreamt of becoming a Christian apologist and author. He quickly realized the philosophers and authors he admired as intellectually virtuous were all connected to Biola. Naturally, Biola shot to the top of his college search.

“I wanted to be mentored by these professors,” said Susantio, mentioning professors such as J.P. Moreland, Sean McDowell and William Lane Craig. “I also wanted a community that's saturated with Scripture that could help me navigate my pursuit of truth, my doubts and my dream to become an apologist, and so Biola was my first choice.”

After graduating from Biola, Susantio moved home to Indonesia while he applied to graduate schools. He was accepted to Boston College, Harvard University and Yale University, but ultimately chose Yale where he received a full-ride scholarship and stipend. As a graduate student at Yale studying philosophy of religion, he has grown an even deeper appreciation for his time at Biola and as a Torrey Honors College student. He recently wrote a letter to Biola President Barry H. Corey speaking to his Biola experience.

“I recall Dr. Barry Corey at our Torrey convocation — he was reading a letter from an Ivy League student,” said Susantio. “It said something along the lines of the Biola and Torrey experience, and that the education was ‘unparalleled’ compared to some of the Ivy League education. I was kind of skeptical of that. But here I am now, writing a letter to Dr. Barry Corey about my experience here and saying the same thing.”

Torrey Honors College is Biola’s undergraduate honors program where students pursue “the good, the true, and the beautiful” through discussion on some of the world's best books. Attending Biola as a global student, Susantio experienced unique academic and spiritual challenges, but continually felt supported by the community and professors on campus.

“At Biola, you can have deep theological conversations with anybody, literally, and have professors who would always reach out to you and talk about great ideas and things you’re struggling with,” said Susantio.

Susantio was a highly ambitious student with goals to publish articles and maybe even write a book while he was studying, but had quite the transformative surprise in his first class, Intro to Practical Wisdom with professor Dr. Thomas Crisp. His first assignment for the class was simply to read the synoptic gospels — to read the story of Christ as a way to inform his ethics.

“I was a very ambitious person and in that first week of school … there was this huge realization that I was trying to use Christ to build my own kingdom instead of the opposite. Instead of letting Christ use me for his kingdom,” said Susantio.

Susantio hopes to use his Biola education to become a Christian philosopher who guides others in following Christ. Susantio describes his Torrey Honors experience reading difficult books written thousands of years ago that you “ought to disagree with” and learning to appreciate the same books by studying authors who appreciated them.

“In Torrey, I think one of the key things that the program is forcing students to do is to practice the forgotten art of listening. And that actually helps you cultivate moral virtues, not just intellectual virtues. Moral virtues such as patience and generosity,” said Susantio.

As he finishes this Spring semester at Yale and is applying for his doctoral programs, Susantio is now planning on pursuing a career in teaching, with his time at Biola and the encouragement from his mentors spurring him on.

“I think Biola has given me so many role models of how to be a Christian philosopher, how to be a Christian philosopher that disciples others,” he said.

Learn more about the Torrey Honors College to pursue “the Good, the True, and the Beautiful” alongside peers and esteemed professors at Biola University.

Written by Jalin Cerillo, strategic communications assistant. For more information, contact Media Relations at