Fulfilling a purpose
When Gayle Fidanzo was offered a job at Christian Family Adoptions, she was reluctant to accept. “We all want the desires of our heart — but I didn’t know my heart yet,” says the leadership and ministry major. Fidanzo dreamt of working somewhere risky, of living overseas and rescuing women out of slavery. “I thought an adoption agency would be boring and safe,” she says.
Quite the opposite. “Adoption is anything but safe,” she says. Adoption is built on loss, and Fidanzo is constantly faced with the grief experienced by everyone involved. Many adoptive parents face the heartache of infertility, and birth parents feel the pain of not being in a position to raise their child. “We come alongside them and help them make a loving, giving choice,” says Fidanzo.
She connected with the adoption agency through Multnomah’s service learning requirement.
Reaching a Worthy Goal
Those gut-wrenching high school questions like “How crazy will the dorms be?” or “Can I hack it as a college student?” or “What will I do forever?” were history for Mitch Priestley. Years earlier, he had jumped headlong into school and even nailed down 42 college credits. But the young entrepreneur bowed out well shy of a bachelor’s degree because workplace and other real-life responsibilities started compounding faster than he anticipated.
“Stay in school!” took second seat to “Be a faithful businessman, husband and father.”
His longing to learn still lingered, though. Mitch was reminded that a zero in the bachelor’s degree field equals one heavy shackle for career progress. He felt stuck. More importantly, he longed to truly know the Word of God. Eventually, he did the leadership and ministry program at MU.
Understanding life’s fullness
For Michael Watson, the reason for returning to college was simple. “I want to finish my degree before I’m 30,” he says. But once he began his classes, the biblical studies major realized he was going to learn more than he ever imagined.
“The Degree Completion Program has been above and beyond what I expected,” he says. “Everything I’m learning plays directly into my life and music and ministry. I’m learning things that I didn’t even know I needed to learn about being a better worship leader and a better songwriter. It’s incredible how relevant everything is.”
Fixing cars, changing lives
“The road to Multnomah was one I never saw,” says DCP student Brian Wiggs. The Washington native grew up playing football and going to keggers before joining the Navy for 10 years. When his service was over, he moved back to his hometown of Spokane. “It was more of the same [lifestyle]; it was me and the rest of the world,” he says. “I was trying to fill a hole that I never knew was there.”
The leadership and ministry major enrolled in an automotive technology program and started fixing cars. Fast forward 16 years: Wiggs was a Christian, seasoned mechanic and taking his first mission trip to Honduras, where his team was building a church in the middle of the jungle.
Uniting faith and career
Married life and bachelor’s degrees don’t always go hand in hand, but thanks to Multnomah’s DCP program, the two can be united. Christian and Katie Rector met at middle school church camp and started dating their junior year of high school. “We chose to get married young, knowing that it wasn’t a popular decision in our community,” says Katie. “We felt a responsibility to finish school and not just have half-completed degrees. The DCP program sort of fell into our laps and made it possible for us to graduate together, which is an unbelievable gift.”
Katie had attended MU for several undergrad classes, and Christian had popped in to visit a few times. “I was impressed with the culture on campus,” he says, “And when we took our youth group to Multnomah’s annual Spring Thaw, I came home after the weekend and said, ‘I want to go here.’”