“Religion aside and excluding cost, what makes your nursing program superior to any other program in the area?”
The parents of a prospective student sit back and wait for my response.
Actually, we do not put religion aside, which is one of the amazing differences in our program and with our faculty. Faith is integral to every class and to my work as the faculty advisor.
God is a God of excellence and majesty, which is why academics in our Seventh-day Adventist schools must match or exceed that of a secular school. With dedicated Christian faculty, there is academic excellence and a Biblical perspective in every course. Just as a church is a hospital for sinners, I believe that a Seventh-day Adventist university is a mission field with multiple ways to surround a young person with a redemptive community of support.
Advising and student conferences always begin with assessment. I have learned to prayerfully pause and listen for the story to discover the reasons behind the reasons in order to balance justice and grace while working toward academic redemption. God knows the gifts He gave to each student, and He has a plan for each student. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV). We pray together for guidance.
Sofía* is drowning in coursework. Her grades are as dismal as she is. Uprooted and transplanted into a new country, language and school, hope of success has vanished. Silent prayer for my words ascend. I am able to share the text, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:6-7 (NIV). We pray together for His promised wisdom.
I nominated Abdul* for a senior nursing award. The whole faculty turned to me in surprise! I described him as attentive, helpful, engaged, and delightful. The faculty shared that in their classes in previous years, he hung out on the fringes of class, was not a standout student in school and didn’t actively participate in service or ministry. He was certainly not on an award-winning path.
Later, I told Abdul that I understood he had made some changes prior to my class. In his words, “I had a conversion experience and it changed everything! Worships in class, caring faculty, and experiences during the summer and school year prepared my heart. Now, what I do, watch, eat, where I go, how I study, and especially my goals for the future are entirely changed. A converted heart changes everything!” Praise the Lord! His promises are true! “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
Andrew* is eager to attend a Christian university. However, his parents want him to attend a community college for a couple years to save money. They ask the question, “Religion aside and excluding cost, what makes your nursing program superior to any other program in the area? Why should our son attend a Christian college versus a free, community college?”
The parents wait for my response. How should I answer?