The following is adapted from a monthly letter sent in June 2011 to donors and friends of Multnomah.
May, with its wonderful commencement celebration, is the most exciting — and the busiest — month of the year for Multnomah University.
It’s when we witness the fruit of our labors, 200 graduates, cross the stage to receive their diplomas and our congratulations. It’s when we replay the stories of the quiet yet relentless grace of God in the lives of malleable students who will extend our mission and vision.
Most thrilling to me this May was the graduation of the first six college students to earn their bachelor’s degrees in teacher education. Let me introduce you to one of them.
Chelsea Whithorn always loved children, and during her sophomore year in high school she decided to become an early childhood teacher in the public school. Growing up in Vancouver, she began looking for teacher ed. programs in the greater Portland area.
“In my junior year,” Chelsea recalls, “I heard rumors that Multnomah Bible College was beginning a teacher ed. program. I was interested.” She visited the campus her senior year and met Dr. Debi Miller, the program’s founding director and enthusiastic advocate.
Overcoming Financial Obstacles
But Chelsea faced many obstacles, especially financial ones. In 2007, when she applied to Multnomah, her good grades earned her a Dean’s Scholarship. But even that was insufficient to make her education here possible. Then, during the summer, she was told that a President’s Scholarship was available. Chelsea saw this scholarship, which pays for half of tuition and is renewable for four years, as God clearing the way to enter Multnomah in September 2007.
Now, in 2011, she carries rich Multnomah memories, including serving as a resident assistant and assistant resident director in Memorial Dorm. But she will she ever forget her student teaching.
“I taught a 2nd and 3rd grade combined class at Franklin Elementary this semester,” she tells me, “and the best part was seeing how these kids responded to the simplest acts of love.”
And what interesting opportunities she has had to speak of spiritual things! While reading a book that mentioned baptism, she asked the large group of students what that was. One little boy immediately responded, “Baptism is being dunked under the water real quick!”
Then he added exuberantly to everyone, “It means giving your whole life to the Lord!”
This summer, Chelsea moves to Oklahoma City to teach urban kids. She will work with “Teach for America,” a program federally funded by AmeriCorps. “It’s a two-year commitment that seeks to lessen the achievement gap of many of these students,” Chelsea says. “The Lord has opened door after door to make this possible for me.”
“Multnomah is central to all of this,” she goes on to explain. “The Bible penetrates all aspects of the college, and I learned valuable life lessons in every class. But most important to me is the way the Bible is integrated into my teacher ed. classes. We talked all the time about how to display appropriately our love of Christ to students.”
You Make It Possible
Multnomah’s education is possible for Chelsea — and hundreds of others — because of you! Your prayers, your encouragement, and your financial gifts are helping us complete another year of preparing ambassadors of Jesus Christ with His Word to touch His world.
Thank you for your support!
Equipping Ambassadors of Jesus, cleverly disguised as elementary school teachers,
Daniel R. Lockwood