Evangel provides a solid foundation for graduate school
July 17th, 2013 | Evangel University Alumni
Jena (Saaybe) Schaumburg earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Evangel in 2002. She went on to earn a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Missouri-Columbia (Mizzou) 2008. In this installment of our alumni blog, Jena reflects on how her Evangel education prepared her for graduate school.
After majoring in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Advertising and Public Relations at Evangel, I really wanted to learn more about the social science of communication when pursuing my master’s. So, after my husband received a promotion that moved us to the Jefferson City (Missouri) area, I decided to enroll in Mizzou’s MA program.
Although I had only been out of school for two years, I felt like I was reading a foreign language in my textbooks. Without the support and the community I had appreciated at Evangel, I was overwhelmed. Nonetheless, I found the content completely interesting, and I pressed on. Eventually, I found my academic self again and gained more confidence.
Moving from a media focus to a social science one wasn’t necessarily smooth, but the classes I’d taken at Evangel — especially the core Bible classes — guided me as I transitioned to this research-intense program.
For example, when I took an Ethics in Communication class with one of my most respected professors one semester, he began one class by discussing Genesis chapters 1 and 2. He pointed out that there are two “conflicting” accounts of creation, which most people do not even realize. Of course, I was concerned by this, but I didn’t feel I had enough knowledge to speak up at that moment.
That night, I went home and researched to bolster my assertion that this was not a conflict. I knew in the dusty parts of my mind that Genesis is a book of poetry, and I figured that would be a good place to start my research.
The next day, I asked to speak to him. I asked him if he’d ever done a “hermeneutical” (a word he used often) study of the Bible; in particular, of Genesis. He’d always put a lot of emphasis on knowing an author’s intent and his or her culture’s viewpoint, not merely seeing historical documents through one’s own lens. I was certain he would have done this with Genesis, but I wasn’t quite sure what I would say when he said he had.
But he had not.
I was shocked. So, after he told me he hadn’t done any study of it, I explained how Genesis was a book of poetry and how the first and second chapters in the original language are “mirror” chapters, meaning the first one tells the account one way and the second tells it another way: One focuses on the creation of the world, and the second focuses on the creation of humans. The refrain “and it was good” is the closest our English translation gets to the poetry of it.
As I progressed through my graduate coursework, I learned more than just the ins and outs of communication. I learned that ivory towers need the Light as well, and that often both sides talk more to each other about what the “other type” thinks than they do talking with the “other type.” They make leaps about the character of each other based on sound bytes they hear (which, often, are biased toward their own opinion anyway). I was warmly received by people who would vehemently reject my beliefs on many things. I sat through and sometimes cautiously (though confidently) engaged in heated discussions about issues such as homosexuality, abortion and corporal punishment. I believe Evangel is a huge part of why I had the confidence and intelligence to engage thoughtfully when I was clearly outnumbered and sometimes out-educated. I knew even if I did not personally know the answer, many answers — like the poetry-Genesis one — are in fact known.
This experience was life-changing for me. My faith was strengthened and developed at Evangel for a purpose, and it wasn’t so that I could just feel smart and godly. For me, it was so that I could start back at the bottom of the next step and feel dumb and confused and alone in my faith, then realize that my faith and knowledge are always to be used for His glory, not my own. When that shifted for me, I was able to draw on the things I had learned at Evangel, both academically and spiritually, and be an example of thoughtful and intelligent Christianity. Someone who is open to learn and yet firm in the faith.
Not because I am faithful. But because He is.
Jena and her husband Tim, a 2000 Evangel graduate, live in St. Louis, Missouri. They have three children, Lily, Lincoln and Edie. Read their unique Evangel story: Evangel is a family legacy for Tim and Jena Schaumburg.