April 4, 2016 | 4 p.m.
By Monique Kleinhuizen ’08, Communications Strategist
Sending a student to college is a major transition for families. While we have amazing staff and faculty members at Bethel who have dedicated their careers to making sure the student experience is as positive, supportive, and successful as possible…sometimes parents can feel a little out of the loop! We talked to Christy Coulter ’08, assistant dean of campus engagement, about what life is like for Bethel students, ways parents can support students during their college years, and where to turn with questions. Here’s what she had to say:
How did you end up at Bethel, and what’s your role here?
As a Bethel alumna, I intentionally sought out Bethel University as an institution where I wanted to serve. I've always admired Bethel’s desire to seek excellence in all they do, and I wanted to be a part of that mission. I serve in the role of assistant dean for campus engagement, which means I get to work with students in a variety of ways during their time here. A few specific groups I work with include:
- Student Activities: Over 70 student leaders create and host over 35-40 engaging on- and off-campus student events each year.
- Commuter Life: We provide programming, communication, and resources to more than 900 Bethel students living off campus.
- The Clarion: Our student-run newspaper offers student leadership opportunities for writers, graphic designers, photographers, marketing and sales representatives, and many other areas.
One of my favorite things about my role is walking alongside students as they discover more about God's kingdom and His deep, abounding love for His people. My job gives me the unique opportunity to connect with a number of students at different points in their college experience. Through these points of connection, I get to encourage each student to discover and develop their God-given gifts and talents. In this season of discovery, I enjoy creating opportunities for students to step into leadership roles that suit their areas of interest and gifting so they become increasingly well-rounded and prepared for future opportunities beyond Bethel.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I always tell people that no two days are the same. I spend a lot of my time meeting with students, planning events and programs with university partners, and dreaming up creative ways to engage our students in Bethel's distinctive community and events in the Twin Cities area. I get to know a lot of the student body and work with a variety of campus departments each day—it’s truly a highly connected role.
What is the goal or mission of the Office of Student Life?
It’s our intention to be a collaborative partner in developing students for life in Christ. Our purpose is to impact students in ways that result in transformational learning, producing change characterized by wisdom, growth, and maturity. Ultimately, our hope is for our students to engage in holistic learning—both inside and outside the classroom.
What are some things about life at Bethel that parents might not know?
That’s hard to put into words, but I’ve adopted this developmental philosophy: We can pretty much guarantee (and we really hope) that the student a parent drops off during Welcome Week will not be the same student who crosses the stage in Benson Great Hall at Commencement. We are committed to the growth and development of our students, which means they will face hundreds of opportunities to mature while in college. College can be a great opportunity for students to try new things by engaging in activities that push them outside their comfort zones. Bethel is filled with hundreds of faculty and staff who care deeply about learning and growth…we want to see our students try new things, while experiencing successes and failures in a safe environment. We hope parents will encourage their students to engage in opportunities that will stretch them, grow them, and challenge them during this unique period of life. We’re in this together!
As you look toward the future of the student experience at Bethel, what excites you the most?
One of our primary goals within the Student Life team is to create meaningful experiences for our students. As we look to the future, we intend to find creative ways to engage our increasingly diverse student body in significant activities that promote and enhance the development of community. One of the things we're intentionally doing right now is gathering student feedback to help us re-envision some of our campus-wide programming. Through listening and truly understanding the experience of our students, our hope is that we can seek excellence in the ways we're serving our students so that each member of Bethel's community has the opportunity to thrive while here.
If a student is having a rough time, how can parents best support them, and where should they start in order to get the student the support he/she needs?
This is a really important question. One of the most meaningful things to do when supporting your child is to try to understand what his/her experience is—taking time to listen and hear what's being shared—while empowering them to advocate and speak up for themselves. As the parent, sometimes that means doing a little research on your end, while also encouraging them to independently reach out and seek support as needed. Bethel is like a small town in that it has such a wide variety of resources and experts within easy reach of each student. We have counseling, health, disability, residential, commuter, and career services; a wellness center, bank, post office, dining center, and facilities crew; and a host of other individuals who care about the well-being of your child…just to name a few! We invest in this work because we care, praying that our interactions with your child will be a small reflection of God's loving grace in a time of significant development.
Christy Coulter was born and raised in the Hudson, Wisconsin, countryside, where she developed a deep appreciation for hiking, camping, and biking. When not camping in her hammock in the summer, you’ll likely find her enjoying a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop, reading one of the many books that adorn her bookshelves, or engrossed in conversation with an old or new friend. She studied communication and psychology at Bethel University, before completing her Master’s of Higher Education at Geneva College, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Over the years, she’s served college students in a variety of roles at Geneva College; Simpson University, Redding, California; and at Bethel.