Hope for the Future
By Rev. Dr. M. Jean Heriot
One of the strongest places of hope for all lies in the futures of our youth. College is about that hope and that formation, and our Center for Vocation, Faith and Service works to bring out the best in the students we nurture. Each year we welcome students selected for scholarships in our program, those who participate in the Christian ministry program, and everyone who joins in activities sponsored by the Center. And each year, we say goodbye to those we have taught and send them off into the world with skills learned and gifts explored to seek new adventures, new learning, and new prospects.
Katie Anderson '04 recently graduated from McCormick Theological Seminary. She hopes to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) this year.
Of the 49 students who graduated with a significant ties to our program since its inception in 2003, 26 were scholarship recipients, 20 have gone on to seminary at institutions such as Yale Divinity School (Ann Phelps and Bryce Wiebe), Iliff School of Theology (Jeff Richards), Candler at Emory (Tim Moore, Megan Worthman), Vanderbilt (Samantha Hamernik, Lori Rothermund), United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (Aaron Lauer and Lindsey Luttrell Kluver), Methodist Theological School in Ohio (Emily Spearman), and Lutheran Theological Seminary of Gettysburg (Steve Neal). Some have graduated from seminary and are serving in churches (Dan Jessop, Samantha Hamernik, and Jeff Richards) or as hospital chaplains (Sarah James). Many receive full scholarships while in seminary, such as Katie Anderson. In addition, Katie graduated this year from McCormick Theological Seminary and received The Bernadine Orme Smith Fellowship. This honor goes to the graduate who has “attained the highest excellence in the Master of Divinity Program in academic success and in leadership, integrity and commitment to ministry.” The fellowship is to be used for further graduate or professional degree study.
Ashley Huff '01 will complete her Doctor of Medicine next year She Recently traveled to Belize with a medical services team.
Other graduates follow a bi-vocational call to serve in the world. We have two graduates in Medical School; at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (Ashley Huff) and the Rocky Vista University Medical School (Dan Kramer).Victor Short just finished a year with the Presbyterian (U.S.A.) Young Adult Volunteer Program where he worked with Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty. He will be attending William and Mary Law School this fall on scholarship. Melissa Theesen and her husband John Striebel are in Tanzania working with Mosaic on micro-lending and advocating for persons with disabilities. Melissa is also enrolled in a Masters program for non-profit management at Regis University. Molly Ericson Thelosen completed a Masters at Harvard in their International Education Policy program. Tessa McDaniel finished her Master of Teaching Degree at Hastings College and is teaching in Millard. Matthew Miller is working on his doctorate in the Family Social Science Program at the University of Minnesota.
Jeff Richards '08 earned his Master of Divinity from Iliff School of Theology this year. He plans to return to Iliff next year for his Master of Arts in Pastoral and Spiritual Care.
Students have also rightly reminded me that there are many calls from God, including that of being a parent. Several of our graduates are married, and several have children (Samantha Hamernik Williams, Sarah Sullivan Sorensen, and Molly Ericson Thelosen). Samantha updated me recently on the birth of her second child, Oscar, and talked about the importance of following a call to parent well as she and her husband also serve their local church. Both of them have been elected elders in their home Presbyterian church.
Other students are working full-time in the church as youth directors (Kelsey Joseph and Steve Neal, who will be heading to seminary this fall) or serving in other ways. Joel Niemann is working in a homeless shelter in Denver, Colorado. Nathan Tramp is working with the disabled in New Zealand, and Ross Whiston will be teaching in Millard this fall. Anna Mullen will spend a year working with the Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee, before going to Candler School of Theology in the fall of 2012.
There are so many ways to be faithful and to live hope. We see our graduates finding their way in a complex and challenging world. They sometimes leave Hastings College sure of their next steps and moving quickly. Others take a bit longer to find that job or partner or place that most fits their gifts and skills. Celebrate with us their journeys and the hope they bring as they follow their vocations.