My name is David LaFore. I am a 1st year student at Concordia Seminary in St Louis, MO, a camp counselor and program assistant at Camp Lutherwood, OR, and a recent grad from Concordia University, Portland. If I were asked what the pay outs are of getting a theological degree from CU I would give this brief summary:
First off, I was able to follow through on my passions and discover new ones. I chose to major in theology at Concordia not only because I wanted to pursue church work, but because theology was a topic that interested me. Simply answering the question “do I care enough to study this for 4 years” cannot be underestimated. While I got to study the history of the church and discuss the nuances of theology with my classes, as I wanted to do, I was also forced to look into other subjects. In fact I grew a passion for fantasy and mythology while studying at CU (thanks to Prof. Phil Brandt), and that passion developed into my Senior Thesis, which was a mix of mythology and theology. The professors at CU want to expand your horizons, and it may seem like a chore at times (why can’t I just study what I want to study?!) but you will be surprised by what new passions you come out of college with.
Alongside the intellectual stuff, Concordia emphasizes the importance of being a servant in the community. Theology is not just talking and theorizing about God, but it concerns serving and worshiping Him as well. I pursued various different opportunities to serve the local, national, and global communities while at CU. This included working with Habitat for Humanity, serving the homeless in San Francisco, sending a mission team to Haiti, and working at the Oregon food bank. We got to put actions to our words and theories, and that drives the education home.
Lastly, and most importantly, the relationships that I built at Concordia have had a lasting impact. Pursuing theology at CU gave me a chance to find people of similar passions and to work with them. I had many conversations about the doctrine of predestination, about controversial issues in the church, about postmodernism and about church politics all while sitting in the gym pretending to work out, over a beer, or on a hike out on the Oregon Coast. Concordia will provide you with the tools for critical thinking and it will provide you with opportunities to pursue and broaden your passions, but most importantly it provided me with the people I met in class—a welcoming community where discussion was enjoyed and memories and friendships were made. It’s a corny and cliché way to end a description of Concordia’s theology program, but clichés exist for a reason, because often times they are right.
- David Lafore '13
My name is Erika Doremus and I am a 2011 CU grad. I wanted to update you on what I have been doing the last few months. In April I found out that I passed the Washington Bar Examination, but I wanted to do some more traveling before getting started in my career. Nature conservation has always been very interesting to me, so I decided to volunteer with a non-profit organization in South Africa called Wildlife & Ecological Investments (WEI). For the month of May I lived and worked at a research camp in the Welgovonden Private Game Reserve located in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. There I, along with six other international volunteers, assisted two wildlife biologists with scientific research on the plants and animals within the reserve. I spent the majority of my time maintaining 80 different camera traps. These are motion activated cameras that the volunteer team placed throughout the reserve. The pictures stored on the cameras allowed us to better identify and count the different animals species living in the reserve without direct human interference. We also conducted field condition assessments, where we would go into the bush to measure and identify grass species along a planned route. This gave us an indication of the health of the grazing species such as impala, zebra, kudu, and wildebeest. My favorite duty, however, was conducting game transects. Along a planned route we would count and categorize every mammal and reptile over ten kilograms within sight. This meant identifying the species, sex, and approximate age of the animals, and then recording its GPS coordinates.
I currently still traveling in southern Africa, but working at the game reserve was by far the best part of this trip. I was able to see so much more than the average tourist, plus I learned an incredible amount about wildlife biology, nature conservation, and the politics that affect conservation. I would highly recommend this type of international volunteer project to another CU student or grad. This is the link to WEI's website: http://wei.org.za/
- Erika Doremus, '11