In tune to God's call
As director of children’s and family ministries, Heather leads and coordinates programming for Asbury Church’s youngest members. Her planning includes Sunday school, family fellowship events, vacation Bible school, partnerships with local schools, and a summer outreach program in a local park. She also has a hand in casting vision for the future of the church, planning worship and assisting with administrative tasks. She says her Northwestern education prepared her to think on her feet and try new things with confidence—skills that proved invaluable while transitioning to her first job out of college.
Why did you choose Northwestern?
Initially in my college search process, I wanted to get out of the Midwest (and anywhere it snowed), but my parents encouraged me to consider at least one school that was closer to home. After visiting campus twice, God made it clear that Northwestern was where he was placing me, and I never looked back!
How did you decide to study youth ministry and Christian formation?
As a kid, I always assumed I would do something at church. My parents both led Sunday school, so church felt like home to me. At first I intended to pursue exercise science, but after taking Christian Story I with Dr. Lief, I began to realize that children’s ministry could be my career, rather than something on the side.
What are the strengths of Northwestern’s biblical and theological studies (BTS) department?
I loved forming meaningful relationships with both BTS professors and fellow students, and the department created a space where we could have difficult conversations while still knowing that we valued one another’s opinions and beliefs. The professors do a great job of balancing rigorous academic study with honoring student faith. I also appreciated how often my courses got me into ministry settings. I would learn through a mix of job shadowing, interviews and field experiences—always returning to class ready to discuss how things went.
Tell us about Northwestern residence life.
Living on campus introduced me to my best friends. My freshman-year wing had a whole bunch of freshmen—each of us with randomly assigned roommates—and we stuck together all four years. I loved how friendly the residents of Fern Smith Hall were. If we met someone in the hallway on our way to the cafeteria, we’d grab supper together, and people were always genuinely interested in how I was doing. Fern made Northwestern feel like home.
How did Northwestern prepare you to lead a life of significance?
Northwestern taught me to listen well, to be open to different ways of experiencing God, and to take seriously the task of theology—both understanding who God is and who we are. No matter where God calls me next, Northwestern has prepared me to find spiritual significance in things both big and small: the conversation over coffee with a struggling believer, a fifth-grader’s hard-to-answer questions, and the Spirit-filled hug of a preschooler.