Leeving: Julia Quinley
An antique emerald couch in her living room was not Lee senior Julia Quinley’s first choice of location in which to conduct her interview. In fact, when I asked her to meet, she had cheerfully suggested somewhere outdoors.
Unfortunately, due to a slight drizzle and a wind that was uncharacteristically cold for a March afternoon, Quinley was forced to accept the alternative. She did note the rain was not much of a deterrent for her, but her couch was the ultimate consensus.
There she sits as I pull my notes from my bag. Her muscular left leg is bent behind her head, hands clutching at her ankle from the opposite side.
“Stretching relaxes me,” she grins widely, as though nothing at all out of the ordinary were taking place.
Steam curled into the air from the exotic-looking mug of tea sitting on the table near her purposefully twisted form. She brought it from her hometown: Thailand’s rural village of Chiangrai, the area in which her family ministers.
“Five days before I turned thirteen, I moved to Thailand from Manila, which is where I was born and had, you know, grown up. That was an interesting change of landscape,” Quinley said.
She said that her backyard was basically rice fields populated with cows with a number of Buddhist temples just down the road.
Indeed, the life of a missionary kid is seldom described as normal, and change, said Quinley, is a consistent part of her life.
“We’ve traveled pretty much all over the world. But it’s kind of funny, my parents met here at Lee,” she said while laughing.
Quinley and her five older siblings have been along for the ride which is the adventuresome ministry of her parents. Their accomplishments as a ministerial family are fairly extensive.
Among other things, her dad started the first Christian radio station in Philippines history, her parents have assisted in starting countless Asian churches, and together they lead a ten-week intensive media training program in Thailand called MediaLight.
“I know that I want to help people in the way God calls me to,” Quinley said of her future. “I don’t know that it will be through missions specifically, but I know want to be free to do my own thing in my own time. Traveling is part of my life, and I want to continue in that.”
Diplomacy is a potential choice, she said, as she is a history major and professed lover of other cultures. The job involves travel, and getting to learn languages, which, according to Quinley, “is a pretty sweet set up.”
“I’m attracted to the idea of working in embassies. I’ve been to several in many different countries, and they have been awesome,” she said.
Her strengths, she said she knows, lie in her mental capabilities.
“The Strengths finder test that I took when I first came to Lee indicated my top five strengths were analytical in nature,” Quinley said, intellection being her first strength. “I don’t disagree with that. I’m an introvert, and introspection is a big deal for me.”
Quinley, however, is the type of girl that could easily be intimidating. Her calm and collected style of speech, excellent affinity for fitness, multilingual abilities, and her academic achievements afford her all the grace that accompanies earned self-confidence.
She can ride a motorcycle, and she makes a mean salad. When she holds a conversation, she looks her partner in the eye. She speaks truth, and does not embellish.
I asked which personal areas she would like to grow in, when she stood from the sofa and began to slowly pace the room.
“I don’t sit for very long. I’ll stand in class if the class is too long,” she said.
Quinley said she has a natural inclination to be a bit closed off from other people, because she saw it as weakness.
“I want to grow in being vulnerable. I’ve had great friends and professors like Dr. Barnet that have helped me grow so much in my time at Lee,” she said. “Spending time with empathetic people has shown me that opening up makes you stronger as person. I have grown and, hopefully, will continue to grow in that with the Lord’s help.”
This summer, Quinley is headed back to Thailand to help her parents with their ministry before endeavoring to obtain a job in her field.
More travels to more countries are planned for the Quinley family, adding even more names to the running list of interesting places they have visited.
Quinley swiftly dropped to a sitting position on the floor, her legs crossed beneath her.
“You know, I have a favorite day that I think about a lot," Quinley said. "It was in Egypt, not too long ago. We rode horses at full speed past the pyramids at Giza. I was in sandals, and the skin was being rubbed off my foot by the stirrups, but I couldn’t feel a thing because of how happy I was.”
Quinley smiles softly, just to the point of showing teeth, and closes her eyes. “Yeah, that was a good day.”