Nathan Freeburg Nathan Freeburg '01

Nathan Freeburg: The Man Who's Everywhere

Getting to know the interests and quirks of Bethel’s Associate Dean of Leadership and Community Development.

BEGIN . BELONG . BECOME

As Bethel’s Associate Dean of Leadership and Community Development, Nathan Freeburg rarely sits still.

Whether it’s during the rush of Welcome Week, running a leadership development event, on a spring break trip or simply passing in the halls, it’s almost impossible to be a Bethel student and not run into Nathan. We caught up with him outside the campus coffee shop and took some time to get to know the man who seems to be everywhere.

What’s it like being a Bethel institution? (Our words, not his):

[Laughs] Well…I don’t think I ‘d say that. Maybe in certain circles. I’ve been here for a little over 9 years.

What keeps you coming back?

I’ve found that Bethel’s a place that really gives you a lot of freedom…some of the programs I’ve done recently have come because there’s space to explore, to be creative, to invent new ways of doing things.

What kinds of student programs have you developed?

One example is Vision Trek, which is a spring break trip…think of “Survivor” or “The Amazing Race.” Basically students take a number of assessments, StrengthsFinder, Meyers Briggs, APEST, and then we go somewhere sweet (this year is New York City). That becomes our classroom to create environments and situations to see what bubbles up, to see how students react and learn about themselves, to figure out the things they’re good at. I like helping people discover who God created them to be.

How have students responded?

Bethel students are very aware in terms of how they think about themselves, what it means to be a leader, and what it means to use their influence.  Students come here wanting to do something great when they leave.

Any words of wisdom to help students on that journey?

Spend time figuring out what you’re really passionate about, and what you’re good at, and go do that.

I say what you’re passionate about and good at because sometimes the things we’re passionate about we aren’t good at, and sometimes the things we’re good at we aren’t passionate about. As much as I love running, I’m never going to get an endorsement deal from Nike. I’m pretty good at vacuuming, but I hate doing it.

Take time in college, when you have the resources and people around you who care about your personal growth and development, to put yourself in situations where you can figure out your strengths. You don’t have to be an expert on everything. Just figure out what you are an expert on, get really good at that, and surround yourself with other experts who can, together, walk through life with you. It’s community.

Also, find a good plumber.

That’s good advice.

And a mechanic. It’s nice to know who to call when you get in emergency situations. 

Anything else we should know about you?

I’m a big nerd. I once played Sim City for 3 days straight. And that was only about a year ago. I was walking home from downtown Minneapolis, looking at the buildings, and thought to myself ‘I think I still have Sim City somewhere.’ So I dug it out and played it for the whole weekend. But once you get to a certain point nothing works and the taxes don’t line up, so you have to wipe it out and start a new city. 

I really love travelling and exploring new places. It expands my worldview, makes me think broader. And it helps me appreciate the things I have.