One of the best ways to truly understand a school’s impact is to ask students to tell their own stories. Join us in getting to know Crowell students and recent alumni and how they have been transformed — by professors, by fellow students, by God — during their time at Biola in our series, Character and Career: Stories of Transformation.

The year 2020 will evoke different emotions for different people — “challenging” might be the most innocuous word to describe it.

But 2020 brings up different words for Crowell School of Business junior Sarah Hartono. She entered college pushing and driving and testing herself and her faith. 2020 was the time Hartono learned to stop. To sabbath. To trust. To rest.

“I am a very ambitious person,” said Hartono. “My freshman year was crazy. Coming from a competitive high school in Berkeley, California, I felt that I needed to prove to my friends who were going to big-name and ‘Ivy’ schools that I could do just as much as they could, even at a smaller school. I felt a drive to go-go-go all the time, thinking that it was all done for God’s glory and thus it justified the late nights and 20-unit semesters. I didn’t want to waste an expensive education. I wanted to make the most out of every single minute.”

But when students were sent home and classes all went to “remote delivery,” Hartono realized that something had changed.

“That transition was the beginning of realizing how much I had grown since coming to Biola,” said Hartono.Because the biggest thing I’ve learned at Biola is about rest and ambition.”

Here, Hartono shares her Biola journey.

Why did you select Biola?

Berkeley is pretty liberal. I loved growing up there because it built productive habits and taught me to have an open mind and loving heart for those who think differently. But I was always confused about the intersection of faith, relationships, work, and really just life in general.

I chose Biola because, in a way, I was kind of “testing” God to see if this whole Christianity thing was worth dedicating my life. Would he still provide even if I didn’t take the more typical, direct “path to success” as the world defines it? I was really convicted by Matthew 6:25-34. It talks about how we should not worry; God clothes even the lilies of the field, how much more will he clothe us?

Why a business major?

Many see business as exploitative and fundamentally bad. My parents were both born and raised in Indonesia, and most of my family is still there. My grandma’s bakery got her out of poverty, and my grandpa’s business has provided money to serve those struck by natural disasters. Because of this legacy, I view business as a tool, which we must choose to use for good or bad. What makes Crowell stand out is that it teaches us how to integrate our faith with our culture through business. I heard in high school about Christians being all talk and no action. To me, doing business God’s way, where we view him as the ultimate CEO, is faith in action.

Tell us more about how you’ve learned about rest and ambition.

It began in March of my freshman year. I went to chapels, and the topic was rest. I went to class, and people talked about rest. I have never audibly heard God’s voice, but I think God was trying to speak to me. But rest was a cliché I had heard too many times before, and anyway, I felt like I did rest.

Then at Praxis Academy, which Crowell sponsored me to attend that summer, they introduced the idea of a Rule of Life, including how work and rest were not opposites, and we needed to live in a rhythm of work and rest, and rest was a part of the work. The clichés about rest had finally reached my heart.

But it was so hard. I thought my hard work was what helped me succeed. But Christians must examine our ambitions — is it selfish ambition or Godly ambition? I had to reorient the way I saw my worth; not in what I did, but in simply being his.

Then, mid-spring-semester 2020, we were sent home. I had to carve out space to lament and grieve and process. I deeply meditated and prayed and continued the habits of rest I had been struggling to build. For example, I’ve been practicing Sabbath; first just one hour on Sunday, then three, then six, and now a full day. That day I don’t work or use social media; I rest, and am reminded that he is in control.

So, instead of seeing 2020 as a year of “canceling,” God enabled me to reframe 2020 as a year of realigning myself to Christ, of strengthening my ability to rest. I was able to finish the year motivated and refreshed.

What will you pursue after graduation?

My concentration is marketing, with an art minor in design, and I genuinely believe the intersection of those can make businesses flourish, along with a third piece: entrepreneurship.

In high school, I would see people work so hard on an event, and no one would show up. Later, I would hear, “I wish I’d known about that, I would’ve gone!” People need to be informed and given good reasons in order to make good choices about their time and money, and that’s what marketing and graphic design provide, the bridge between great ideas and the people who need them!

You’ve had a lot of extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. How do they play into your future plans?

Crowell’s “business as mission” is central to how I spend my time at Biola. I want to be culturally engaged and focused on Christ. My marketing classes and what we learn in the Biola Entrepreneurship Society help equip me for the business world. My involvement in the Student Alumni Association helps me build skills, along with becoming a leader and manager. Praxis Academy and the Startup Competition both helped me live my faith in action through business and entrepreneurship (we won first place at Startup!).

My time in Torrey Honors helps sharpen my skills in listening and having productive conversations. Being in Taro Talk helps me integrate cultural/racial identity with my calling and how I love and serve others. Quizlet has been such a vibrant place to intern because the people strive to live out the company’s core values, and I’ve learned that being a self-starter and relying on God are not contradictory but work together.

All these experiences, through Crowell’s “business as mission” lens, have helped me to see business as a way to change culture. It’s God working through us, inviting us to be co-creators in restoring what He originally envisioned for mankind.

Learn more about Crowell’s bachelor’s degree concentration in Marketing.