Community Partnerships Change Graduate’s Life

Nursing and reconciliation studies double major Lizzy Carson ’22 has invested her time, energy, affection, and talents into the Bethel community and beyond, following Jesus’ example to model love in each of her servant leadership roles.

By Katie Johnson ’19, content specialist

June 10, 2022 | 8:15 a.m.

Nursing and reconciliation studies double major Lizzy Carson ’22

Nursing and reconciliation studies double major Lizzy Carson ’22

If one were to imagine what servant leadership looks like in action, Lizzy Carson ’22 would probably come to mind. The nursing and reconciliation studies double major has invested in relationships with community partners and educators within Bethel and the greater Twin Cities metro. At Bethel, she has served as a Resident Assistant (RA) and leader of the student group European Americans in Solidarity. She’s also an Act Six scholar, which is a full-tuition, full-need leadership and scholarship program that prepares and empowers emerging urban leaders to make a difference on their campus and in their communities.

As a sophomore, Carson received the Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellowship for her work to promote social justice, partnership with Urban Farm and Garden Alliance, and service as a tutor, community gardener, and advocate for racial and environmental justice in the Frogtown and Summit University neighborhoods. As a senior, she was named the 2022 Reconciliation Studies Awardee during a ceremony led by Program Director and Professor of Reconciliation Studies Claudia May.

“Elizabeth honors the human dignity of community partners and educators by acknowledging their experiences, their wisdom, their insights,” says May. “She learns to correctly pronounce the names of those she meets. She values their heritage and intellect. She sees community members for their beauty. She appreciates their complex humanity, their tenderness and human frailties, even as she stumbles and grows along the way.”

As Carson prepares for life after graduation, she reflects on her time at Bethel, celebrating the relationships she’s made, the knowledge she’s gained, and the journey she’s traveled so far:

Lizzy Carson received the 2022 Reconciliation Studies Award, which "recognizes those who are learning to live out reconciliation as ambassadors of God’s love, God’s agency, and God’s desire to reconcile the world to God," says Program Director and Professor of Reconciliation Studies Claudia May.

Lizzy Carson received the 2022 Reconciliation Studies Award, which "recognizes those who are learning to live out reconciliation as ambassadors of God’s love, God’s agency, and God’s desire to reconcile the world to God," says Program Director and Professor of Reconciliation Studies Claudia May.

What's important to you about partnering with Twin Cities communities outside Bethel?

I have found that working alongside community partners brings out so much truth, beauty, and richness to life. As I have had the honor of knowing community partners, I have been able to see the world from other perspectives and develop relationships which have changed my life.

How do these partnerships relate to your experience as an Act Six scholar?

As an Act Six scholar, these partnerships have allowed me to continue my development as a leader as I learn from local community leaders. Act Six holds a central value of returning to our communities to make meaningful change and the people I came alongside allowed me the opportunity to continue to usher in change. These changes are not just the social changes within the community but also deep in my own soul. Partnerships with organizations such as the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance and We Resolve have given me the opportunity to see leadership modeled in a variety of ways. Each of the partnerships also allowed me to engage with communities and individuals with different stories than my own just as Act Six has done so as well. 

As a nursing and reconciliation studies double major, how do you see these practices informing or interacting with each other as you move further into the world?

In my college experience, many people have been curious why I chose reconciliation and nursing to be my majors. While many people may find it unusual, I have found the two to be extremely complementary in the most beautiful way. In the classroom, nursing allowed me to exercise predominantly left-brain thinking and evidence-based practice built on scientific knowledge, while reconciliation studies gave me the space to use my right brain through storytelling, creativity, wisdom from the experiences of others, and using tools of dialogue. As I move beyond Bethel, I know that nursing and reconciliation studies will allow me to address and acknowledge the social inequities and barriers within the healthcare system that significantly affect individuals and their health. My experience studying both will also allow me to see beyond diagnoses and help me see and treat patients holistically. 

What do you plan to do after graduation?

I hope to continue to use my experiences to increase healthcare access, cultural awareness, and inclusivity within healthcare systems by maintaining and developing relationships with individuals who face these barriers firsthand. I am not sure what this will look like but I trust that God will direct me toward opportunities as I continue to use the example of Jesus to model love to our broken world. 

What has mentorship looked like during your time at Bethel? In what ways have you seen yourself grow under this guidance and investment in your story?

I have had a few women who have come alongside me and truly encouraged and challenged me over the last few years. They provided spaces for me to be fully seen and known by sharing my perspectives and experiences. I have grown as I have been able to gain different wisdoms from each of these individuals, and they have given me the gift of seeing my experiences in a new light. One of the greatest gifts they have given me has been a better understanding of boundaries, reliance on God, and soul care. They have demonstrated, both through words and actions, the importance of valuing oneself as God does. This has been incredibly transformative for me and I hold tremendous gratitude for their guidance and partnership.

Would you be able to share a bit of your perspective of faith and/or God?

The God of my dreams is a gentle yet fervent God. He holds us, encourages us to breathe deeply. He wants to know the most minor details about our lives. He waits with patience, and he acknowledges our potentiality. The parts of ourselves we want to hide, He holds with tenderness and shows us why it is not something to be ashamed of. 

Would you mind sharing how your faith has grown throughout your time at Bethel?

Entering Bethel, I believed that God held high standards and expectations for me. This gave me little room to acknowledge my humanity and to learn from my own experiences. Through my reconciliation studies classes and partnerships, my faith has become more centered on the idea that God wants intimacy with us that is chosen not forced. He wants us to be reminded of him through the way in which he crafted nature and designed human relationships. He sent Jesus to the earth to demonstrate this and to remind humanity of our need for saving and partnership with God and with others.

What has been a highlight of your Bethel experience?

The highlight of my Bethel experience has been the opportunity to partner with community members and to share in several wonderful experiences. Some of the dearest mentors and friends that I have made have been through partnership experiences. They have truly transformed my heart and mind. College was the most difficult part of my life yet, for a plethora of reasons, and had it not been for these intentional partnerships and conversations within the classroom and with mentors, I do not know where I would be today.

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