Evangel Profile

Elizabeth (Williamson) Herrington (’89): Licensed mental health counselor

March 25, 2011

Today Elizabeth  (Williamson ’89) Herrington is a licensed mental health counselor with a  successful private practice in Gilbert, Iowa. That’s a successful career for  any college graduate – but for Herrington it is a miracle.

Because of her  learning disabilities, Elizabeth was advised by some educators not to attend  college. “They were well-meaning people who just didn’t want to see me fail,”  she says.

Their words cut deep  and almost kept her from pursuing higher education. But the guidance counselor  at Dayton Christian High School encouraged her to go. A friend recommended Evangel, and she summoned up the courage to pursue a degree in Communication. It  was not easy and she considered quitting early on, but with the support of  caring faculty and staff, Elizabeth made dramatic academic improvements – even  while working a full schedule as a banquet manager in the cafeteria. Today her  success is a credit to her own hard work and the support of the Evangel  community.

Herrington’s  incredible testimony is told through this letter she recently sent to Evangel  President Robert H. Spence and his wife, Anne:

Dear President and Anne Spence,

What a great thing it is to see how God has blessed Evangel  University. It is visibly evident by the beautiful physical changes of campus,  but more importantly how the new campus is able to facilitate additional  growth.

It has been a long time since 1989 when I graduated but I  felt led to put in writing how my experience at Evangel University has had a  positive, rippling effect that still continues.

In 1983, I was encouraged to NOT go to college because of my  learning disabilities. They were words spoken by well-meaning people, but words  that were hard for me to overcome. I will never forget my first two days as a  student and how overwhelmed I felt after reading through my syllabi. I was  making a decision to go home. I stopped unpacking my boxes and went to see Dr.  Elli Syler, director of the Learning Skills Center (now the Academic Support  Center), to tell her of my decision.

She asked me to sit down because she had something to say to  me. Little did I know that her next few sentences were going to change my mind  and bring a fresh focus to looking into the supernatural that has led to my  success. Dr. Syler said that each year God put one student on her heart to mentor  and tutor; and the night before God told her that person was me. I can still  remember the warm tears I cried of feeling the reality that truly all things  are possible through God.

During the first semester I started at a 20 percent reading  comprehension level and grew to 80 percent by the end of the year. My sophomore  year I had made the dean’s list. This was exciting to me because I got to  attend the banquet personally, rather than professionally assuming my banquet  manager’s role. This led up to the accomplishment of achieving a 4.0 grade  point average the first semester of my junior year. The Lord guided my story to  reach out to others. It was at this time that I was given the privilege to  share the pain I had experienced as a learning-disabled student to become the  force field to spread the word on how Evangel empowered me to attain skills and  experience. A large part of that was the encouragement I received from the  one-on-one with professors and staff.

One of the strong memories I have is that of being invited  by the Evangel Ladies’ Auxiliary to share my story. I walked in feeling  vulnerable to criticism, but instead received acceptance and curiosity that  helped me to appropriate the skills and continue in my studies. This was the  point the Lord moved my pain to purpose. The Holy Spirit shifted my energy and  love to advocating for those in need.

I graduated as a member of “The Outstanding College Students  Program” with a bachelor of science in Communication. Graduating in 1989 was  the foundation for graduate work in pursuing a master’s in counseling from  Colorado Christian University. I formed my decision that was conceived by the  environment Evangel provided of influencing students to make good choices.  Evangel anchored my belief to pursue a master’s and instill hope in others to  find purpose within their pain to find Jesus Christ.

As a current licensed mental health counselor, I have been  able to offer 10 years of private practice dedicated to bringing glory to Jesus  Christ. The things that come to mind when I think of Evangel is that it helped  me to guide people to become closer to Christ, to not waste their pain, to  bring their burdens to Him, to offer the healing power of Jesus Christ, to find  God’s healing mercy, to bring glory to God through our common suffering and to  find “overcoming” in Him.

Evangel helped equip me to encourage clients to acknowledge  their brokenness and find healing only in Him and find their “birthright” in  His creation, calling forth the beauty as His image bearer affirming they are  fearfully and wonderfully made.

In closing, as I remember my roots going back to Evangel, I  have learned and empowered others to remember the pain, obstacles and  ministries or anything else means nothing apart from Jesus Christ. He is the  object of our devotion and all things hold together in Him. He only asks of us  to conspire (breathe) with Him until the fullness of the numbering of our days.  Thank you President and Anne Spence and Evangel University for teaching me how  to breathe!

Elizabeth Herrington (Beth Williamson ’89)

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