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Evangel alum recognized as 'Angel in Adoption' by Congressional Coalition on Adoption

February 4, 2013 | Ian Richardson

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” — James 1:27, NIV

Melinda Nicholson takes this verse to heart. And this 2010 Evangel University alumna has a very big heart.

Nicholson’s desire to make a difference in the lives of “orphans and widows” has led her to serve on state boards and committees, to welcome foster children into her home, and to earn her college degree in Human Services at Evangel University through the Adult Studies program.

Just over two years following her graduation, Nicholson is serving on the Missouri State Foster Care Adoption Board, a position to which she was appointed by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. She also serves on the Greene County and Southwest Missouri Regional advisory boards, where she works to solve local child neglect and abuse problems.

For her years of dedication working in the foster care system, Melinda was recognized in September of 2012 as an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in Washington, D.C.

And it all began with one adoption.

Nicholson says she and her husband, Marv, had been struggling with infertility prior to their son Morgan’s birth and that her pregnancy with him was difficult. A few years later, Morgan began showing interest in having a sibling.

“Our biological son Morgan started telling us he wanted a sibling and was praying for one,” she says. “We felt a strong desire to add to our family through adoption.”

Marv and Melinda’s two children are now 16-year-olds. Since then, Melinda has devoted much of her time to caring for needy children through child welfare. In the past 12 years, the family has welcomed more than 50 foster children and teens into their home.

Earning a college degree had always been something Melinda wanted to do. However, she says that she knew juggling her full-time job and role as a mother along with an education would be difficult.

“One day on the radio, I heard an advertisement encouraging me to make a call if I had ever wanted to attain a degree in a framework that would work for adult learners.”

Nicholson says that call changed her life.  

While at Evangel, Nicholson says she enjoyed the family-like environment where she was able to develop relationships with classmates from her cohort, some of whom remain important friends today. She also says she enjoyed Evangel’s holistic approach to education and the way that it helped her connect with her strengths.

“I love that Evangel is a strengths-based campus,” she says. “It has certainly made a tremendous difference in my life as I strive to increase collaboration in child welfare.”

While attending Evangel, Nicholson became a member of the Alpha Chi Honor Society. She also had the opportunity to travel with a group of students led by Bryan Sanders, Social Sciences Department chairman, to Washington, D.C., on a Spring Break trip.

Melinda says that as an advocate for foster care on the state level, she found it very enjoyable to visit the nation’s capital, an enjoyment that returned last September when she made the trip again to accept her award.

“It felt amazing to re-visit a place that Evangel first introduced me too,” she says. “I expect to return for many future trips there.” 

Today, Melinda stays active sharing her heart for the needy with others. She teaches classes for future foster care and adoptive parents, as well as classes to help caregivers with special-needs children. She served as co-chair of Missouri’s 2012 ONE Conference, where she helped to train more than 300 foster care resource providers.

The Nicholsons also travel to speak at churches and share their heart for the widows and orphans.

Nicholsons’s advice for prospective students is simple.

“Make the call,” she says. “Your destiny awaits.”

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