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Stories of Transformation at UNW from 2021 Graduates


By Kristine Stedman on Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The University of Northwestern—St. Paul is approaching an eventful and meaningful time of the year when seniors become alumni. This celebratory time is accompanied with deep reflection as our graduates transition from UNW into the next season of their lives. Four UNW seniors share how God worked in their lives and the transformation they experienced from freshman year to senior year at UNW.

Danata Bureac

Finance major with minors in Accounting and Bible

What were your expectations coming into UNW?

“I expected to leave with a higher education and ready-to-enter-the-business-world knowledge, but the emotional and personal growth I’ve experienced here far outweighs my bachelor’s degree.”

What did you want to do with your life as a freshman and how has that changed now that you are about to graduate?

“As a freshman I wanted to be a financial advisor, and that still stands as I prepare for graduation. While what I want to do has not changed, who I want to be has evolved and developed. I am still so passionate about serving individuals through financial advice and planning, but more than that I want to be a bridge-builder and advocate and intentional resource for underserved communities.”

What are some avenues that had a part in changing your perspective?

“My perspective has been broadened mostly through my student leadership experiences, which allowed me to meet and work with so many different kinds of people. The individuals that I have had the honor to work with and serve have opened up my eyes to so many more worlds of experiences and backgrounds. If it wasn’t for all that, I would not have known that there is such a big gap in the financial services that the average middle-class white families are offered and that which is accessible to immigrants, refugees, and ethnic minorities in the lower-class—and that’s the gap I desire to fill in the future!”

How have you seen God move in your life during your time at UNW?

“The two biggest and most impactful ways that God has moved in my life during this time has been through the people that He has brought into my life and the developed depth in my relationship with Him. I have people who speak life into me, and I have a life-giving relationship with my Creator; I’d venture to say that I’m all set for this new chapter in my life!”

Darrell Myles

Biology major

What were your expectations coming into UNW?

“I was expecting a Christ-centered environment that would give me the opportunities to grow in my faith and education.”

What did you want to do with your life as a freshman and how has that changed now that you’re about to graduate?

“I wanted to ultimately become a licensed psychiatrist as a freshman. Now, I am torn between that and becoming a high school counselor, while using that as a stepping-stone to becoming a licensed psychiatrist because I would love to work that age group for a while; that is such an important part of life.”

What are some avenues that had a part in changing your perspective?

“Having plenty of conversations with Professor Mork and Dr. Simat. Those two played such a huge part in my success here at UNW and were ones to consistently encourage me in times of hardship.”

How have you seen God move in your life during your time at UNW?

“By surrounding me with an amazing support system, from friends, teammates, professors, coaches, etc. It has been such a blessing to expand my support system from those I have in my corner from back home in Louisiana.”

Olivia Hagstrom

Communication Studies major

What were your expectations coming into UNW?

“I was excited for the Bible classes, the community, and discovering God's call on my life. I expected to arrive and immediately know what I was supposed to do with my life, who my lifelong friends were, and understand the Bible like a scholar. I quickly learned this was not how life was.”

What did you want to do with your life as a freshman and how has that changed now that you are about to graduate?

“I honestly had no idea—and at times I still don't know—what I wanted to do with my life. All I knew, as a freshman, was that I was called to UNW and that I had passion for people and media storytelling, hence why I chose to major in Communication and minor in Public Relations. Through the many unknowns of the last few years, I have let the Lord undo my expectations to help me grow into the person I was purposed to be.”

What are some avenues that had a part in changing your perspective?

“Being an RA, now ARD, has been a humbling experience that has caused me to put others before myself and make UNW a safe place for everyone. I have learned a lot about myself through various trials and moments of trusting God to come through. Working with students has deepened my love for Christ, for people, and for ministry. I've been able to utilize my personal creativity, the knowledge I've learned from class, and my heart for others to create events and spaces meant for holistic enjoyment.”

How have you seen God move in your life during your time at UNW?

“The last three years at UNW have been the most transformative years of my life, and that is an understatement. I have seen God take the freshman version of myself and undo her to transform her into the woman she is becoming. He has done this through breaking down my expectations of what I thought college, let alone life, was supposed to be, and made me a student of life. My professors, mentors, friends, and classmates have taught me about the heart of Christ and our job as stewards of this life. I will always be grateful for the work God has done in my life and the people He has chosen to take part in it.”

Carter Allard

Finance major

What were your expectations coming into UNW?

“I was expecting an inviting, friendly, and Christ-centered community coming into UNW and have found more than I initially imagined. The community I found here was incredibly welcoming to me not only in my freshman year but all throughout college. There is an incredible group of brothers and sisters here on campus that mutually encourage one another by each other’s faith. I have enjoyed the opportunity to be a student leader on campus to hopefully help foster that same friendly, inviting, and Christ-centered community that I came into experience.”

What did you want to do with your life as a freshman, and how has that changed now that you are about to graduate?

“As a freshman, I came in wanting to be a financial advisor to make money and help others to do the same. While my career path may not be all too different with a change toward corporate finance, I have had a perspective change as to what it looks like to give my life, including my career, to serving Christ. Through my classes and encouragement from my community, I've changed my perspective and approach to business and learned how I can steward my skills and abilities to bring glory to God.”

What are some avenues that had a part in changing your perspective?

“There have been so many people at Northwestern that have helped change my perspective and helped me learn and grow. My business classes, like Business Ethics and Business as Mission, have helped incredibly in my perspective and approach to my career and life after college. However, more importantly, the community and my other involvements have had the biggest impact on me in encouraging my walk with the Lord. My experiences with Cities Church, the Northwestern community, Campus Outreach, and Resident Life have led to people investing in me and I in them to facilitate meaningful conversations and life change.”

How have you seen God move in your life during your time at UNW?

“I have truly seen God move in my life during my time at UNW. It is sometimes crazy thinking back to the person I was coming in. I came into UNW having grown up in the church but was, admittedly, lukewarm in my faith at best. I was wrestling with guilt and shame but, though I heard it many times before, was impacted early my freshman year by the Gospel story of how Jesus' death on the cross took the punishment for my sin and reconciles me to God. I found so much freedom in Christ and now feel like I am living a new purpose-driven life—one where I don't feel like I need to do anything to earn my salvation, but rather know what has been done and joyfully respond with my life.”

These four graduating seniors bring to light the life transformation possible at Northwestern. There are endless resources students can take advantage of as they progress in their faith journey and solidify career goals and readiness from their first days on campus through graduation. And while it is often difficult to see in the midst of the process, God has a transformative experience planned for all who pursue Him and will provide all that is needed to accomplish this. 

At UNW, God provides a rich community of Christ-centered professors, classmates, roommates, coaches, and mentors to help transform the lives of students. 

As Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”(ESV)

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