Alumni Spotlight

April's Alumni Spotlight is on Grace Frey (McCoy)! Read below to learn what she's been up to since graduating in 2017…


Since graduating from TMA, what have you been up to/ what are you doing now?
After TMA, I went to college and graduated from Cedarville University in 2021 with a degree in Graphic Design. I met my husband, Nathan Frey, in college, and we got married just before our last semester. Following graduation, we moved back to the sunshine state! Starting with a tiny popcorn roaster in our garage, Nathan and I founded Leatherback Roasters, a specialty coffee roasting business. We both had previous experience in the coffee industry and had been roasting for friends and family. It quickly took off, and we spent the next couple years building our business while working other jobs. After spending the better part of last year renovating and securing permits, we opened our coffee roastery in Longwood, FL. It's been so fun working hard together and being a part of the Orlando coffee community. We've had our coffee featured locally in Downtown Orlando and in shops across the state as well as across the country! One of my favorite spots to drink our coffee at a shop is The Fox Mercantile/Foxi Coffee just across the bridge from Anna Maria Island!

What made you choose your career field?
My senior year J-Term internship with a local non-profit cafe and catering business had more of an impact on me than I could have known at the time! One of the baristas I worked with there taught me about cupping (a technique for tasting coffee) and tasting notes, which opened my eyes to coffee as more than just a drink I really enjoyed. Also, my AP Art class with Amy Rivera sparked my creativity and desire to learn Adobe programs. While I don't currently work as a graphic designer, I still use those skills I developed in college every day running my business, from social media management to website design!

What have you found to be the most rewarding part of your career?
Seeing myself grow as an individual through hard work and long hours has been a very rewarding consequence of building a business from scratch as a 22-year-old, now 25-year-old. However, the most rewarding part of it has been the incredible people I've met along the way. From local coffee shop owners and baristas to our coffee importers, we've met some amazing individuals at every step of the supply chain.

What is the most important thing you have learned over the course of your career so far?
I've learned that it's okay to not know everything at once! Knowledge builds on itself, and experiences build knowledge. Take opportunities to grow and take risks. And be patient with yourself. You won't get it all right on the first try. Just do the next right thing. And stay curious! There will always be more for you to know. Stay in a posture of learning.

In what ways have you seen God move in your life recently?
Honestly, peace. I have been living a busy whirlwind of a life for a while. At times, anxiety has been high. But I feel so much peace when I spend time reading His Word. (And listening to the Through the ESV Bible in a Year podcast.) Lately, praying has gotten easier with practice. The more I pray, the easier it gets. And the more I read His Word, the more I want to! Same as anything else, it's a muscle we have to work. And thank God He gives us the ability and strength to exercise spiritual disciplines! And grace to pick them up again and again :)

In what ways do you believe TMA helped prepare you for your adult life?
My senior year J-term internship was more valuable than I could have known! Just getting me out of my comfort zone and getting me connected to a field of interest was so good for me to experience. Mission trips to Costa Rica gave me opportunities to grow in faith and serve others. But beyond that, TMA helped to give me a foundational knowledge of Scripture. This is KEY. Because of this, I have true discernment in life. I was surprised when I went to a private college at how little knowledge of the Bible most of my peers had. My teachers from kindergarten to 12th grade provided priceless biblical teaching and integration. Shawn Thompson's faithful teaching of Scripture during my formative high school years will always stick with me! Having teachers that I knew were also praying for me—that changed my life!

What’s a fun or special memory from your time as a student at TMA? 
Class chapel is such a special memory for me! TMA gave us an amazing opportunity to lead a worship service and to serve our student body. With help from staff, members of our class worked together to prepare a sermon and worship set based on a theme given to us. I remember being so excited to lead worship with some of my closest friends. I think it's so important to give everyone opportunities to exercise their faith at the level of learning and understanding they're at, and TMA encouraged that for us!

Reflecting on what you have learned in your adult life so far, what's one piece of advice you would give a current TMA student?
Walk with God. Life is going to get harder in so many ways when you leave high school. It will come at you fast. (That's not to say it isn't great!) But all the more reason to have a solid foundation. Always make time to walk with God, even if it's taking small steps toward him. For me, when I'm at my busiest, sometimes that means listening to the Bible being read in podcast form and taking time to pray in the car on the way to work. God is for you, and He will not let you go. If you're His, you're His forever. Thanks be to God! Also, try new things! Your comfort zone is not where you will grow the most.

Nominate an Alumni