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EU alumni perspective: Diane Swanson

Name: Diane Swanson

Graduation Year: 2016

Major: Masters of Organizational Leadership

Current Position: Vice President of Programs, Global Teen Challenge

City and State: Columbus, Georgia

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

I spent 18 years as a registered nurse when God called me into full-time ministry at Teen Challenge of Arizona. I founded a 12-month residential recovery program for women and their children in 2003 and directed that home for 10 years. In 2013, I felt God pushing me to do something greater, risky, and way outside my comfort zone. I joined Global Teen Challenge to champion the program models on a global scale, especially for women and children. I quickly discovered how ill-equipped I was to manage organizationally on an international level. With encouragement from a friend, I enrolled in Evangel’s online MOL program. I had not been in school for 30 years so it felt extremely intimidating.

I worked full-time and traveled internationally as I studied through the MOL. I have done homework from Australia, Africa, Europe, North America, and the Caribbean. New information was applied in real time. I learned to write communication strategies and wrote them for my department. I learned to create strategic plans and created them for what I wanted to accomplish at work. It was brilliant!

Today I serve as Vice President of Programs for Global Teen Challenge (GTC). GTC has a vision to put hope within reach of every addict on the planet. We realize the enormity of this vision and the amount of work it will take to scale global services to meet the recovery needs of so many people. We have told God “yes” and started our four-year strategic plan for transformative scaling. Yes, we will answer the vision and put the hope of Jesus within reach of every addict. I could only be in this position as VP of Programs with the transformation I received at Evangel.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

In our very first residency, Dr. Praschan spoke over the class that before the MOL program was over, many of us would be promoted at work as a result of the transformation we would go through as MOL students. He was right. I was promoted within six months of starting the program and then again, a year after I graduated.

How did Evangel help you develop your calling?

When I describe myself and what I went through in the MOL program, I tell everyone I grew a new brain. I think differently than before I started. Evangel equipped me for my calling. Evangel gave me the tools I needed to move into international organizational leadership. The education was immediately practical and applicable to my situation. It felt like an anointed strategy God had planned just for me.

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

My Evangel experience gave me a bigger vision for where God wanted to take me as well as the courage I needed to risk the journey. All of my Evangel professors and my cohort members spoke words of encouragement and greatness into my life through the residencies, the assignments, and the discussion posts. The key component for creating the greatest impact in my life was all this wonderful education took place in a faith-saturated environment. Jesus was included in everything, as He should be. 

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Make a plan to go the distance with your education. The workforce is looking for great leaders…be one! Even if you are deciding your career choice for your bachelor’s degree, decide to get your masters, and then your doctorate. We need strong, committed, well-educated Christian leaders to change the world. God has plans for you and those plans are good (Jeremiah 29:11), and He is not kidding. Press into God, agree with Him about your calling, and then prepare yourself for that calling. Embrace the position in the workforce you are in. Your job is a part of His plan for you as well. God rewards a job well-done with a tougher assignment so proactively prepare for promotion.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

As an employer, I look for character and training. Especially since I work for a front-line ministry, I expect to see a strong commitment to Christ, a commitment to excellence, competencies for the position, and a willingness to learn.