Kimberly van der Giessen, M.A.

M.A. in Children, Youth and Family leads to job at homeless shelter in Seattle

In late summer, 23-year-old Kimberly van der Giessen was excited and just about to start her new job at a homeless shelter for young people in her hometown of Seattle, Wash.

Van der Giessen, who is pursuing an M.A. in Children, Youth and Family at Luther Seminary, hopes to spend her career working with inner city youth and she sees her seminary degree as an important move forward in pursuing that goal.

“I applied late to Luther because I was not sure what my next step would be after graduating college,” van der Giessen says. “I got a call from [seminary] admissions while I was working as a site director at YouthWorks in Martin, S.D., scraping gum off the bottom of desks. They said I had been accepted and I was offered a scholarship. A couple days later, I was at Glacier Park worshiping with a group of teenagers and we were challenged to give up something for the kingdom of God. I decided that I would give up my next two years to learn about how I can better minister to young people and empower them to pursue God's kingdom.”

As the recipient of a scholarship from Luther Seminary, funded by the generous donors who support its crucial work of educating the next generation of Christian public leaders, van der Giessen says she’s especially grateful to have received the scholarship support.

“I don't think it's possible to put a price on the education that I have received from Luther, but it's also hard to know that there are very few people who are able to pay for this education,” van der Giessen says. “Many of us young students are coming out of our undergraduate degrees with thousands of dollars in loans that we know we will be paying off for many years to come. Because of this, seminary is not an option without the scholarship and financial aid that we receive.”

Van der Giessen also notes that her studies at the seminary have equipped her to be a vital and positive leader for the church as she pursues her future work.

“My education at Luther will help me be a more educated church person and will help me teach others about why we believe what we believe,” she says. “I actually don't plan to ever work for a church since my calling is with nonprofits, but I do hope to teach Sunday school classes for either youth or adults. When I was a junior in high school I was asked to be a leader in my church's junior high youth group and when I saw how God was using me to touch the lives of those young people, I fell in love with youth ministry. From then on I have been involved with different youth and children's ministries and have learned so much from young people.”

Van der Giessen will be finishing her degree from the seminary via online courses while in Seattle, but she also treasures the time she spent at the seminary itself.

“The experiences that I value most from my time at Luther so far have been those outside of the classroom,” she adds. “After class I often discussed lectures with my fellow classmates and listened to their thoughts. That's where my learning really takes place. These experiences have all impacted my life and are things that I will not forget.”

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