The Life-Changing Work of Concordia University Texas Alumni, Part I

December 18, 2020
People sitting on a couch

Concordia University Texas prepares students for much more than a job; the University prepares students for life-changing work through individualized attention from professors, exciting class discussions and comprehensive education.

Ranging from stay-at-home mothers and business leaders to educators and nurses, our CTX graduates excel in a variety of vocations.

Here are just a few stories that show the impact Concordia University Texas alumni make through their life-changing work.

Ministering Together

The Rev. David Bailes graduated from Concordia in 1990 and 1991, earning a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Mexican-American Studies and a BA in Behavioral Sciences. His wife, Cheryl Bailes, is an alumna of Concordia, graduating with a BA in Education in 1993. Both David and Cheryl have leveraged their vocations to serve others through Christian ministry.

The Lord has called the Baileses to serve in a variety of ways. "Ministry does not happen only when your official title is connected to the church," David said.

David has served as a missionary in Guatemala, missionary for Hispanic ministry for The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), social worker for an international adoption agency, high school teacher and pastor.

Cheryl has also served in a variety of roles, including program director, camp director, math teacher and Director of Christian Education (DCE).

The Baileses now serve in church ministry together. David is the pastor of Living Savior Lutheran Church in Montgomery, Texas, a church he planted in 2007. In 2016, Cheryl joined as a part-time DCE; she serves in the church and teaches public school math.

The Baileses family

Serving Up Nutritious Options in Buda, Texas

Jeremy Sanchez de Alcala is a double alumnus of Concordia, graduating with his BA in 2013 and his Master of Business Administration in 2015. With the goal to provide their fellow residents of Buda, Texas, with a nutritious restaurant option, De Alcala and his wife, Melissa, launched Green Space, TX Natural Foods + Juices in 2017.

Serving plant-based foods, juices and smoothies, Green Space, TX operates out of a vintage trailer. Additionally, the de Alcalas launched online ordering capabilities. The communities of Buda and Kyle, Texas, can now have fresh raw juices from Green Space TX, delivered.

In addition to operating Green Space, TX, de Alcala has served with CKM Restaurant Group, a multi-unit Chick-fil-A franchise in South Austin, for 20 years. He currently serves as the chief people officer, responsible for talent acquisition, human resources and company culture.

Nursing on the Front Line

Deanna Doering graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Concordia in 2015. With more than five years of experience as a registered nurse, Doering quickly embraced her role on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the midst of her work as a charge nurse, Doering focuses on her ultimate vocation and calling: to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others.

"I believe I was placed on the unit I am to share the love of Jesus not only with patients but also with other nurses," Doering said.

Distinguished Professor

Dr. Sandra Doering has always known that education is one of the vocations to which God has called her. She completed junior college at Concordia (then Concordia Lutheran College) in 1969, where she met her husband, Martin Doering, and went on to earn a master's degree and doctoral degree.

"I see the Lord continually working my life," Doering said. Beginning as a classroom teacher, God led her to serve in higher education. She has impacted and continues to impact the lives of countless students and educators.

Doering served CTX for 19 years as a professor and the dean of the College of Education. When she was the dean, she led the efforts to establish Concordia's first-ever master's program, the Master of Education.

Doering is now a member of the graduate faculty at Concordia University Chicago (CUC). She helped the school develop the Doctor of Education program for reading specialists. In addition to teaching, she serves as the chair of 10 dissertation committees and is the department chair for the Literacy & Early Childhood program.

In 2020, Doering was recognized as a Distinguished Professor for her nearly 12 years of service to CUC.

Dr. Sandra and Martin Doering

Supporting Elementary School Families

Cristina Garduno graduated with a BA in Global Public Health from CTX in 2019. She is using her degree to help support families at Pecan Springs Elementary School in Austin, Texas.

Many families at Pecan Springs Elementary make low income and need support through resources, such as food, clothing, rent assistance and parent education.

As a parent liaison, Garduno works with students' parents. She keeps them engaged, educating them about the importance of being involved in their child's education. Garduno also plans community events and provides helpful resources to families.

"My degree helped me understand the needs of the vulnerable population," she said.

Moving forward, Garduno plans to earn her teaching certification.

"I have always had a passion for working with children," she said. "I was raised by a lower-income family and saw our struggles and other families struggle. I want to motivate students that education is a way out of poverty. I want to be a role model for students to show them that change is possible."

Representing Private Universities

Dr. Steve Johnson graduated from Concordia in 1998 as a non-traditional student, completing his degree in his 30s.

Since then, Johnson has committed his career to support higher education. In July 2020, Johnson assumed the role of president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT).

ICUT is a nonprofit organization that works to strengthen independent nonprofit colleges and universities in the state through advocacy, policy research and collaboration. Johnson's work is essential to universities like Concordia University Texas, which is a member institution of ICUT.

As president, Johnson leads the nonprofit's efforts to help member institutions advance educational opportunities for students, address the financial needs of families, promote economic opportunities for communities, foster relationships with businesses, and inform and advise policymakers.

Cristina Garduno and Kassi Kincaid

Bringing Books to Life

Kassi Kincaid graduated from Concordia in 2016 with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management. In addition to serving as the administrator at Cornerstone Connection, a non-denominational Christian preschool, Kincaid is working through the nonprofit Book Days to inspire a love of reading in children.

Book Days began as a recurring event at Cornerstone Connection. Kincaid and her best friend, Ambria Bedgood, would act out the scenes from the books they read to children.

By God's divine providence, Kincaid received a generous donation from Whole Foods in March, which enabled her to shift Book Days to a virtual format on YouTube.

Since then, Kincaid and her Book Days team have produced multiple videos. Each Book Days video features a new location (often a sponsor's business), where Kincaid reads a book related to the place, and viewers learn more about the location.

Concordia University Texas will prepare you for life-changing work. Apply today!