In an ever-changing culture, the importance of receiving a Christian education is vitally important. The Wesleyan Church offers higher education at five colleges and universities and one seminary. Each institution offers an education on undergraduate and graduate levels that prepares men and women for a lifetime of global service no matter their field of study.

Ultimately, the heart behind a Wesleyan education is to raise up alumni who will impact society with the gospel so that they have a transforming presence in all corners of the globe.

“The men and women who attend our colleges and universities receive a high-quality education that propels them into successful careers but, more importantly, they receive a transformative discipleship experience which deepens their faith in Christ,” said Rev. Russ Gunsalus, executive director of Education and Clergy Development for The Wesleyan Church. “And sets their trajectory to transform lives, churches and communities around the world.”

Following are recent graduates who’ve overcome obstacles to receive their degrees. To learn more about Wesleyan Higher Education, click here.

John Khalaf: Houghton College

I grew up in Egypt as a Wesleyan pastor’s kid and I am the first Egyptian Wesleyan to receive a Wesleyan education. I graduated this spring with a master’s degree in computer science and a minor in math and data science. Growing up, I enjoyed learning technical skills because I was able to help people with their needs, but I also loved ministry and couldn’t find a way for me to use both things at the same time. When I came to Houghton College, I learned about data science and the more I heard about it, the more I loved it. In today’s world, the biggest need is to understand data—there is data everywhere, and we need to find ways to analyze and understand this information so we can make better decisions. At Houghton, I was able to see how I can combine my technical skills and my love to serve others. This fall, I will be working in Buffalo, New York, with an organization called WEDI, which helps refugees who own businesses receive loans. I am hoping to be able to automate parts of the process to make the process time one week shorter.

Trevor Lumpkins: Indiana Wesleyan University

I didn’t grow up in the church. I wasn’t out doing bad things; I just didn’t think I needed the whole church thing. The summer before my junior year, I was asked by a friend to come to a beach party that the youth group was putting on. I thought to myself, “summer, beach, girls—that’s a great time to show off.” After the party, I started attending the youth group regularly. Once I started to see church for what it really was, my interest in who God was started to grow. I went to church camp with the youth group that summer looking for God and he revealed himself to me in an incredible way. I asked him to tell me who he was and what Christianity was all about. He told me that if I would follow him, he would guide me, give me a purpose and help me along every step of my journey. Ever since then, there have been many trials and lots of obstacles, but God has remained true to his Word and has been with me every step of my journey. I am thankful for my education received through Indiana Wesleyan University as I prepare to enter a residency to further equip me to be a youth pastor in the future.

Rose Degenhardt: Kingswood University

I grew up with a father who was an alcoholic (who eventually got the help he needed) and a mother who was an addict. Because of my childhood, I never wanted to work in helping others overcome addiction. But God had other plans. I graduated from Kingwsood University with a degree in Christian counseling. Through my education, I interned at a residential substance abuse rehabilitation center. During this time, God revealed my passion to become a licensed counsellor predominantly in the area of substance abuse and addiction. Now, I am pursuing a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at another university. I plan on having a private practice or working as part of a larger counselling firm. I believe my education and biblical background from Kingswood, along with a master’s degree, will give me a comprehensive education to serve others in a diverse society in my future. I could not have done this without the loving support of my husband and four beautiful children.

Patience Gitau: Oklahoma Wesleyan University

Between my intense schedule that required a lot of juggling as a nursing major and playing basketball and attending school in a culture different than my Kenyan heritage, I have had my share of ups and downs while trying to get my degree. Also, to help overcome some cultural barriers, I was privileged to start Culture Connection, a group that focused on celebrating cultural diversity within the body of Christ. Throughout my time in Bartlesville, I’ve had wonderful support from friends, staff and faculty at Oklahoma Wesleyan University who’ve helped me along the way. Being an example to my family and friends helped me to never give up and trust in God to bring me through some stressful situations. Upon graduation, I will start a job as a nurse in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, hospital and will pursue my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in 2019. I also plan to be involved with medical mission work and help change the world, one patient at a time.

Sergio Tapia: Southern Wesleyan University

I came to the U.S. from Vina del Mar, Chile, to study physical education with a concentration in coaching. Coming to the U.S., there were many challenges: the language barrier, playing soccer, studying and having to work on campus, which limited my time. The greatest challenge, however, was being far from my family—especially when they went through difficult situations. Last year, we experienced a loss in the family, which was difficult for all of us to recover from. I had to trust that my family was in God’s hands even though I was far from them. Through it all, God gave me peace, and I learned to trust in him. While being far from home was hard, God placed the right people at Southern Wesleyan University to support me. I graduated in May, and I want to keep learning in coaching, as well as preparing for the mission field, because my calling is to share the gospel in regions of the world where people have no access to it.

Pebbles Wireman: Wesley Seminary

Just months after a major car accident the summer before my senior year of high school, my life was in shambles and everything seemed hopeless. I was alone and did not know where to turn as I sat weeping in a dark alley. Just as I was ready to give in, Jesus shined his light into my darkness—taking me into his arms and holding me as he gently wiped the tears from my eyes. That was the first moment that I knew what love was: God’s love. Shortly after graduating from high school, I did not know where God was leading me. Being accepted into Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) in 1994 was the beginning of many changes. The biggest change happened when a car T-boned me that summer, causing a brain injury that developed into a pseudo-tumor cerebral and chronic daily migraines. This illness has invaded my body, trying to hold me captive to the pain I suffer on a daily basis. God began to write a new chapter in my life—one that included IWU 20 years later. I completed much of my bachelor’s degree in communications from a hospital bed. By faith, I have entered Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. Through the years I have learned that it’s not about being strong, but about being weak, so Jesus can be strong in me. I made a choice a long time ago not to let my health define me. I want my faith to do that. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, NIV).