Valerie Malabonga, a CDA parent, has been reaching out to Coram Deo Academy alumni to catch up with them and interview them for this new series.
We think it’s so helpful for you as CDA parents and students to learn about our alumni who are in college and beyond, so that you can catch a vision for how your classical Christian education now is preparing you for a life of fruitful service Coram Deo, before the face of God. Don’t miss the articles in this series. Here is the first interview of Kelsey Yoder, a Coram Deo graduate and Salutatorian, now finishing up her college studies at Lee University.
1. Could you tell us about your time at Coram Deo Academy? In what grade did you start? How long were you there? What year did you graduate?
I started at Coram Deo Academy in 8th grade and attended for five years. I graduated high school in May 2017.
2. Tell us what you are doing now. What is your major?
Right now, I am a senior at Lee University in Tennessee. I am a nursing major. I was planning to graduate May 2021, but because of the pandemic, my senior soccer* season was cancelled. Now I am planning to stay an extra semester to finish out my college soccer career. Therefore, my plan is to graduate in December 2021 and then find my first job as an RN!
*Kelsey is a midfielder at Lee University’s women’s soccer team.
3. What was your favorite aspect of Coram Deo?
I am so thankful for my experience at Coram Deo. My favorite aspect of Coram Deo was the way Coram Deo shaped me as a person. The Coram Deo chant specifically impacted me with the values and truths it portrays. It has formed how I think about life more than I think I realized while I attended Coram Deo.
A few of the key lessons from the chant that have been particularly impactful include,
“My life has been given to me to honor him and I will honor him with it.”
This reminds me that my life and every moment of it is a gift. It is time that has been given. It is not my own. I am to live my life for Christ and for others. This is so freeing to me.
Another verse is,
“I will strive for excellence and should I fail I will do so nobly and with grace.”
This reminds me to always give my best and leave the results up to God. Then if I do fail, I know that I can rest in doing my best and accept the results. There are days where I recite this chant in my head even in my senior year of college!
4. What stands out about the relationships you developed at Coram Deo? Are you still connected with the people you met at Coram Deo? In what ways? How did your relationships make you the person you are today?
I love my relationships from Coram Deo. I graduated with four other people in my class. It felt like we were all brothers and sisters. We still all try to get together during winter or summer breaks when we are all home from college! It is so fun when we do and reminds me of the good old days. I love them so much.
I also enjoyed being able to build friendships with kids in all grades as well! I would stop and say “Hi!” to the kindergartners during lunches and some days sit with middle schoolers. It was always fun to develop relationships outside of those my age. Coram Deo was intentional in building community between the upper and lower schools.
My relationships with my teachers were a blessing. I learned so much from them and it also felt good to be known in such a personal way. The teachers were so intentional to check up on us, ask about our lives, and of course help us succeed in school. I could always tell they truly cared for me! Every now and then I see my former teachers and that is always a blessing. It humbles me to see how invested they were in their students.
My relationships from Coram Deo gave me joy, a healthy amount of challenge, lots of laughter, confidence, and support. These relationships have helped me to step more into the dreams God has placed on my heart and to grow as a person.
5. In your experience, what has been the biggest advantage of your educational background? How were you prepared for the challenges of college and working life?
My education at Coram Deo equipped me to succeed in college. My classes and the workload from high school were rigorous and challenging, but it taught me how to work hard, handle a heavy load, and persevere.
One of the biggest advantages I have found is being able and willing to talk about major issues or deep topics from a Christian point of view. In my time at Coram Deo we were not afraid to talk about the hard topics or deep theological questions. I have also found that my classical education gave me an appreciation for all kinds of learning. For example, I am naturally drawn to science and the human body. Although I am a nursing student, thanks to Coram Deo, I love reading the classics and trying to understand poetry. Coram Deo developed me as a whole person.
Coram Deo also prepared me for college and life by helping me realize I am not here for myself:
“I live before the face of God.” (from the Coram Deo chant)
I am here to honor him with my abilities and opportunities. This mindset and reality has helped me to honor God with my education and the opportunities I have been given.
6. The stereotype is that classically trained students excel in the Humanities, but you are in the Health Sciences field. How do you think your classical Christian education helped prepare you to be successful in your field?
First, I think my classical Christian education will help me succeed in my field because of the type of person I am becoming from my experience at Coram Deo. I am servant-hearted, compassionate and want to make a difference.
My education also taught me how to study and work hard towards my goals. It takes a lot of determination and discipline to do nursing and collegiate soccer at the same time. My classical education also helped me become a more well-rounded person. Rather than coasting through high school, I read books and plays that wrestled with complex ideas. I wrote and defended a thesis that I was passionate about. I took logic classes that taught me how to reason. All of this was hard, but so rewarding.
7. Coram Deo’s current “Portrait of a Graduate” highlights the phrases: Contagious Christian, Lifelong Learner, Creative and Critical Thinker, Compelling Communicator, and Legacy Leader. How did Coram Deo help you become any or all of these? In what ways?
I see myself as a Contagious Christian. I have been humbled by people who have told me they are inspired by my faith or that it impacted them in some way. Through loving God and loving people, I have seen my heart for God inspire and encourage others to love God and advocate for others. Coram Deo helped me become this by helping me wrestle with deep truths in theology classes, reciting the Coram Deo chant, and by learning from a Christian worldview.
I see myself being a Lifelong Learner, thanks to my education. As I grow, I realize that there is always more to learn and more ways to grow. Coram Deo and the classical Christian model have taught me this as well. We can always go deeper with God. We must look back and appreciate those who have come before us and their wisdom.
I see myself becoming a Creative and Critical Thinker as a nursing major. I have had to learn how to think like a nurse. This was true in my time at Coram Deo as well. I had to learn how to think in ways to understand passages of literature or how to understand Latin.
Then I see myself being a Legacy Leader because of my relationship with God, the way I believe I can make a difference in the world, and by simply serving others. I can see how Coram Deo was building me up slowly year after year to become confident, truth-filled, and bold. They were building me into a graduate who would impact the world for God.
I see this in myself and I see it in the people I have graduated with. I am so thankful Coram Deo had a bigger vision for me than just graduating high school, but to also make me into a faithful servant of Christ who is equipped to do the work He has called me to!
8. What is next for you or what plans do you have for serving Christ in the world with your gifts?
My immediate plan is to graduate from Lee University in December 2021. Then I want to work in the hospital for a few years to gain experience. My dream is to become a missionary. I plan to use my nursing education to serve communities here in the United States and overseas whenever and wherever God opens the door. I know that I have been given so much so that I can give to others. I am blessed to bless.
I also love that my future profession, nursing, is a way for me to intentionally serve people and treat them as I would treat Jesus. I also have great desires to fight human trafficking. I see myself one day serving in a non-profit organization that is involved in this fight. I am so excited for what God has in store for me.
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