Concordia University Texas has been blessed with some incredible students who have gone on to do wonderful things in their respective communities. Share your story with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Concordia University Texas has done so much for me! I had wanted to attend Concordia ever since I was a sophomore in high school. In fact, it was the only college I applied to. I have had so many amazing opportunities at Concordia I would have never had if I had not gone to college or gone to a larger university.
Since my freshman year, I dived right in and made friends and got involved. I became a part of the student government, where I served as Senator of the College of Business for three semesters. On the musical side of campus life, I had some opportunities to use my musical talents to perform at Coffee House, play piano and percussion for chapel, and eventually become a co-worship leader for student led chapel services. Within the College of Business, the monthly Speaker Series played a constant role throughout my collegiate years. My sophomore year I assumed the role of Speaker Series Student Coordinator, assisting with the behind-the-scenes work of hosting various speakers for the college.
In the duration of my time, I got to meet and have lunch with people like UT's former coach, Mack Brown and Karen Hughes, former senior advisor to President Bush. During my upper classmen years, I was fortunate to do my internship at Make-A-Wish Foundation, where I got to explore my interest in non-profits. That year I got travel to San Francisco with Dean Gillis and the Thrivent Scholar group to tour businesses on the West Coast, including Google and PayPal. Wrapping up my senior year, I graduated top of my class, Summa Cum Laude, with the spring class of 2016.
All of these experiences have helped me grow professionally and gain self-confidence. I look back to my internship and see the valuable skills it taught me in simple tasks, such as phone etiquette and attention to detail. My Speaker Series job grew my emotional intelligence and helped push me to greet and talk with people I had never met. I have been privileged to have some wonderful mentors and teachers such as Dr. Christian and Dean Gillis. Although academic excellence was a major part of my courses, it was also important to them that their students took note of life lessons and took their learning outside the classroom. I am so thankful to have studied at a Christian institution where students and faculty are free to express their faith and pray in class. I also appreciated the smaller classroom environment. It made it feel more like a family. I believe Concordia has prepared me well for my aspirations of being a business manager.
I am blessed to have gotten a managerial position right out of school. I am the office manager at a Christian preschool, Cornerstone Connection, in Round Rock, Texas. My two passions are business management and early childhood education at it has been awesome to find a job where I get to merge those two fields. In addition to my managerial role, I am also serving as marketing director for a start-up non-profit called Sensory Smart Solutions that promotes the importance and application of sensory development in young children. I will always be grateful for my time at Concordia and am so excited to an alumna!
As I neared the end of my high school career and began looking into college, I knew I wanted to be at a very particular type of institution: one in which I could play volleyball and personally connect and interact with my professors. Those kinds of things happen in many different places, but God's plan and His guiding hand led me down a road that was exceedingly better than anything I had imagined.
After I was accepted to CTX, connected to volleyball coach, and was blessed by a large scholarship, I happily began my journey as a Tornado in the Director of Christian Education program. Going from high school to college is always a big transition, but as I look back on that season, I can see how well I was spiritually, emotionally, socially, and intellectually supported. The faculty and staff consistently impressed me with their personal dedication and investment in the student body, regardless of program or major. While a CTX student, I realized my dream of being a student-athlete, learned an occupation to utilize my passions and gifts, and was even encouraged to further develop and pursue my dreams, which led me to study abroad in Meknes, Morocco! This particular experience was a gateway for me, as the world literally was opened wide. When the time came during my senior year to search for an internship placement after graduation, I wrestled with where to go. I ran into a few closed doors, but I was finally led to the possibility of an internship in Zacapa, Guatemala. With prayer and peace, I began said internship in August 2014!
In March of 2016, I finished my internship commitment and once again recognized that God had far exceeded my meager expectations. Because of my time at Concordia, I have gained many skills, great wisdom, and close relationships. The connections, programs, and encouragement I received helped me become the person I am today. Starting this fall, I will begin my new role as a theology teacher, volleyball coach, and mission program developer/coordinator at Lutheran High School San Antonio. Those formative years of undergraduate education continue to shape who I am, and the relationships I made while a CTX student continue to provide me support as I look to the future. I do not know where God will lead me, but I am so thankful for where He has led! The story continues! #woosh
My experience at Concordia provided me with the building blocks essential for a successful future. The academics, relationships, and opportunities I had to grow my faith while attending CTX have made my post-graduate story a successful one so far. I am currently serving in Micronesia through the non-profit organization World Teach, and I truly believe that my success here has come directly from my experiences at Concordia. As cliché as it sounds, the personal attention students receive from faculty is one of the best parts of the Concordia experience. Without the help of some of my professors, I would have never discovered my love for the sciences and passion for service. One of the people that influenced me the most was Dr. Johnston. Walking around the preserve and collecting water samples in the early morning/late evenings with her and other science majors were some of the funniest experiences I had at CTX.
Concordia also provided me with peers to share moments of adventures and opportunities to face some fears. During my last year at Concordia I was able to go on the CTX Outdoor Rec backpack trip to Big Bend National Park. Due to the rock climbing, rappelling, canoeing, sunrise hikes, and countless other adventures on the trip, this quickly became one of my favorite experiences with Concordia. One of the best moments was when our group was canoeing the Rio Grande River and two people in our group, Jack and Damian, flipped their canoe over and landed in the freezing cold January water, almost losing their GoPro (thankfully, the camera was quickly recovered).
Another favorite experience at Concordia was the small-groups that developed during my time there. I had the chance to be a part of MAP (Mission Ambassadors Program), which was led by the amazing Pat Fick. This group was unique to Concordia because it involved student leaders from as many different clubs, extracurriculars, and majors as possible to come together and learn from each other how to better support and encourage them in their faith and their extracurriculars. It gave me the opportunity to meet many people that I would not have otherwise made relationships and instilled in me the importance of community and the need for support. My Concordia experience not only gave me academic success, but also provided me with countless opportunities to learn about life in the real world and be a part of an amazing community.
Concordia was a spur of the moment decision for me. I was already committed to another college, but came down to visit spring break of my senior year of high school. Once I toured the campus I was blown away and made the decision to come to Concordia during my visit. As the start of freshmen year drew closer, I was a little concerned I made my decision too hastily. But the faculty, connections, and experiences I had at Concordia made me realize that this was the best decision I could have made to achieve my educational goals.
We had a pretty tight nit biology group. Everyone knew each other and every professor knew my name. If I had a question or was struggling with a concept, the professors doors were always open. As students we helped each other out when one of us was struggling. It was a great learning environment and lead to many of my classmates to flourish. Between my class and the class above me, we currently have 5 people in medical school, 3 people in or finished with PA school, 1 in graduate school pursuing a PhD, and 1 in vet school. I know I speak for most of us when I say we owe a lot of our achievement to the professors at Concordia. They all care for your well-being and are very helpful in the post-undergraduate process. For example, senior year as we got interviews Dr. Janes would take a day out of class time to help us prepare for the interview process and how to answer questions. This helped calm my nerves and I was able to answer most questions during the interviews. It was the professors compassion for their students that ultimately helped me excel in undergrad and prepared me for my medical career.
I had such an incredible experience as a Communications undergrad. During my time in undergrad I had a non-campus radio show nearly every semester, was involved in theatre and frequently contributed to the newsletter. Basically, I was involved in all of the things and loved every second of it.
After classes ended for me, I began interning at the American Red Cross as a social media representative. Right after this, I had the chance to film a couple of paying commercials. The first showcased my life as a blogger, and the film even crew recorded part of my radio show at Concordia for a part of this piece.For the second commercial,I was flown to Detroit to film on the same stage that rock stars perform on. I was even given my own makeup and wardrobe artist-- Talk about a surreal experience!
Shortly after graduating, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first baby, and that little one is now a redheaded and vivacious toddler. I am currently working as both an event blogger and a social media representative, and having an absolute blast with both. As an event blogger, I've had the chance to go on adventures such as fly-boarding, indoor skydiving, beekeeping, ziplining, and hot-air ballooning (photos attached) I even got to meet Willie Nelson at a movie premiere! Definitely amongst my top 5 of blogging experiences.
I truly believe that the public speaking practice and hands-on experience Concordia gave me helped prepare me to be successful and ready to take on the world upon graduation.
As of August, I am back at Concordia in pursuits of receiving my MBA! Concordia is helping yet another dream of mine come true!
Two Concordia University Texas alumni are currently preparing for a big life change. Rev. Duane Meissner (2003) and his wife Elizabeth (2005), along with their three children, are moving to Central America in January of 2016 to carry out a unique and exciting mission. After serving as a parish pastor near St. Louis, MO for four years, Rev. Meissner has been Called by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synods Board for International Missions to serve as a career Missionary in Belize. His task, increasingly rare in Lutheran missions, will be to plant the very first Lutheran churches in the country.
Belize is a small, beautiful, yet still developing country just South of Mexico and East of Guatemala. A former British Colony, once known as British Honduras, it is officially English-speaking, but people from a wide variety of cultures with a wide variety of languages now call this tropical jewel home, including groups of Mestizos, Mayans, Kriols, Garifuna, and immigrants from surrounding countries. The Meissners are excited about learning about, living among, and ministering to all of them in the years to come.
For many of you readers this will not be the first time you have seen the Meissner name attached to the country of Belize. Concordia's own Dr. Larry Meissner, Duanes father, has been taking groups of Tropical Biology students from Concordia to Belize nearly every year for decades. Dr. Meissner recently retired as a full-time professor at Concordia, but he is thrilled to continue leading groups of students there each year. Beginning 2016, carrying out this duty for the University will come with the added incentive of being able to see his kids and grandkids!
To follow the Meissner family's life and work in Belize, visit their website, www.ChristInBelize.com. From there you can subscribe to their monthly e-newsletter, see pictures and videos, follow their blog, and become sponsors of their work.
Stacie McCollum (Watkins - 96) graduated from Concordia University Texas with a B.A. in communications and broadcast journalism. She attended Concordia on an academic and athletic scholarship playing defensive specialist for the school. After 12 years of living in the east coast after college, she takes an offer of a lifetime: to work for the Longhorn Network! The network happens to be on the grounds where Concordia's historic campus once stood. She explains in detail her college memories, and experience at her dream job. Watch the full story here.
McCollum is senior director, programming & acquisitions, for Longhorn Network (LHN). She oversees the programming strategy, content acquisitions, and day-to-day business operations of the network. Serving as the conduit to ESPN and the primary liaison to the University of Texas athletic department and overall university. She is a graduate of the historic campus, and we are proud of all her accomplishments!
By: Sairam Pathi
As a first born child to first generation immigrant parents, I had to learn many of life’s lessons on my own. My parents have been an amazing support system and have always loved me, however the culture shock of emigrating from India to America did not enable them to parent me as well as they would have liked to. I must admit that I've traveled down the wrong path many times in life because of the choices I made to fit in with my peers. The choices I made when I was younger ultimately led me to drop out of high school. However, I acquired my GED and was accepted to the University of Texas at San Antonio. My lack of discipline in regards to school ultimately led to my failure at UTSA.
I felt that I really let down my family, but the strange thing was that they still continued to love me unconditionally. That unconditional love and support really led me to change myself for the better. I moved back to Austin and started attending ACC. I took my studies seriously and ended my career at ACC with a 4.0. As I was looking for a four year university to transfer to, a dear friend of mine (Lauren (Duffin) Amani, who worked at Concordia) insisted I give it a shot here at CTX. I took her advice and it changed my life for the better; it was the single most influential decision of my life.
There is no doubt in my mind that the business degree I earned from Concordia has taught me many valuable technical skills. However, the most important lesson I learned from attending Concordia was how to truly be a Christian leader. I learned how to be compassionate, understanding and loving to others as Christ loved me, regardless of my downfalls. On the first day of an Old Testament class, Professor Joel Heck challenged the class to read the entire Bible cover to cover. I decided to read 6 chapters a day and finished it in six months, with the help of Dr. Heck. I learned that I was seeking acceptance from the world to fill the void in my heart from not having a personal relationship with God. Dr. Heck baptized me in April of 2014 and I have never been more at peace.
I graduated from Concordia in May 2014, with a 3.95 GPA. I currently work in Finance at Revolve Solar. I’ve moved up the corporate ladder rapidly because of the work ethic my parents taught me and the importance of vocation both the Bible and Concordia impressed on me. I’ve now returned to Concordia (in August 2015) to finish my MBA. I live to please God and take care of my family. I owe them everything I have and everything I will ever have.
(image courtesy of Sairam Pathi)
By Rosalie Cutrer
As a pre-teen, after going to summer youth camp for years, I was on fire for God and ready to go where ever he led me. However, I faced a lot of rejection from my friends in school and faced major conflicts at home. My parents weren’t committed to God or to each other. They relentlessly fought throughout my childhood yet my dad and I remained super close. Towards the end of high school I was devastated when I found out my dad had an affair. I gradually stopped caring about school, and began partying and pursuing unhealthy relationships with both guys and girls. Several years later my family and I left the church I grew up in after several offenses. We were on our own until 2008, when my dad found Celebration Church where we currently attend. My dad got involved in a men’s small group and served in many different areas of the church. As he got closer to God I began to get deeper into a lifestyle of partying, pursuing my own dreams and desires. I craved the social aspect, the pleasure of parties like a drug. I became very distant from my family, especially when I publicly came out as a lesbian, with the intent of marrying and having a family with a woman. At this point I was partying five nights a week and lived with whomever I dated. If I wasn’t dating someone I was sleeping on friend’s couches, with people I hardly knew, where ever I passed out drunk or whomever I was sleeping with at the time. Some days my parents didn’t even know if I was alive. I wouldn’t call for weeks at a time. They had no idea where I was, who I was with or what I was doing. I tried to fill the emptiness, the deep rejection with wild parties and relationships. I was desperate for attention, for acceptance, to belong and would latch on to anyone who would give it to me. Nonetheless, no matter how much I distanced myself, no matter how hard I pushed away the men in my dad’s small group encouraged him to not give up and persistently prayed for me to return to home and to church.
One day, in 2012, after a major break up in a long term relationship, without a job, money or place to live, I returned home where my dad welcomed me with open arms. As he and his small group continued to pray for me and love on me, I began showing up to church with my family regularly. Then shortly after I took the plunge, got baptized and buckled down on my studies instead of partying. Then in February 2013, I attended a women’s conference where God completely turned my entire life around. I felt God’s love like never before. It felt as if, after being gone for so long God ran to me with open arms, embraced me and told me “I am just so glad you’re home”. I was so moved, so overwhelmed by his love that I let go of everything I had ever held onto. I gave up partying and dating girls completely. Through the speakers at the conference God told me he had so much more planned for me than empty relationships or partying. I was meant for a much greater purpose. So, I fully committed to pursue God and His greater plan with all my heart. To show my commitment to him, God led me to sponsor a child from Xai Xai. I wept as I stood up to receive a sponsorship packet which provided a description of the little boy I was to sponsor. As I attempted to read it, through the blurry flood of tears, “He loves to play soccer with his friends,” stood out so clear to me. I knew at that moment God was calling me to go Xai Xai. Three months later, in May 2013, I was on a plane headed to Xai Xai Mozambique Africa for a short term (2 week) mission trip. While I was there at our church in Xai Xai God clearly spoke to me and asked me if I was willing to come back for a year. I told him, “If this is really you I need full support from my family.” When I arrived home my brother, my mom, and all of my extended family told me I had to go and that I would be crazy if I said no.
With that, in May 2014 I returned to Xai Xai Mozambique for a year internship with Celebration church where we care for and preach the gospel to over 1,500 members, 500 children (80% of whom are orphans) and run five campuses. My main role was home school facilitator for the Pastor’s kids, Rachel (14 years old) and Matthew (11 years old). I tutored them in all subjects, organized and graded all tests, quizzes and assignments, coached them in P.E., prayed with them and led them in devotionals. They became like my very own little brother and sister. I also had the opportunity to begin a soccer ministry through our church. I led soccer small groups every week where we taught youth basic skills and rules, played fun games, prayed with them and lead them in devotionals. Unexpectedly, in addition to small groups, I coached our church’s very first Youth boy’s soccer team. In the beginning of August 2015 I am returning to Xai Xai for 10 more months. Upon returning to Mozambique, I will continue facilitating home school for Rachel and Matthew as well as coaching them in P.E. and leading them in devotionals. In addition, I will get a chance to expand our church soccer ministry through training and pouring into our Celebration Youth Soccer team, and Youth Soccer Small group. Also, I will schedule competitive matches with other Youth team within the surrounding communities. My hope within these next ten months is to have the opportunity to plan soccer camps for the children under the age of 10 at the church, in which the youth soccer leaders will assist in coaching them and leading them in devotionals. After the internship I plan to pursue an internship or job at an orphanage in Africa to learn how to establish an orphanage of my own in the near future.
Ultimately, in contrast to where I was I have come a very long way, an immense transformation only God could fulfill. I was the lost daughter who took her inheritance, turned away from her family, away from God and found herself at rock bottom with nothing left. I returned home with no anticipation of receiving anything but grief and boy was I surprised. Like the lost son, even though I was still a long way off, my father (both earthly and heavenly) was filled with compassion for me. He ran to me, met me right where I was, embraced me, and accepted me, mess and all. We all have people in our lives that are far from God. Just like God didn’t give up on me, he won’t give up on them, so neither should we. All it takes is a little faith and trust in God to just pray because there is power in prayer. Through prayers and trusting in God your best friend, your sister, your mother, your father, your son, or your daughter will return home to their heavenly father. So just allow God to work through you and love them in a way only He can.
(image courtesy of Rosalie Cutrer)