Community Development Alumni

 

Christian Man
Christian Man ’09

 

Current occupation

Ph.D. student in Rural Sociology & International Agriculture and Development at The Pennsylvania State University

 

Current residence

State College, Pennsylvania

 

Church

Ascension Church, State College, PA

 

What were you involved in on-campus while at Covenant?

I was on student senate my junior year, contributed to The Bagpipe occasionally, played intramural soccer, and was in the Maclellan Scholars Program.

 

What has your career path looked like since leaving Covenant?

I walked the Camino de Santiago in France and Spain, worked with urban agriculture and food security initiatives in Memphis, earned a master’s degree in community development from Vanderbilt, and began recording oral histories of minority farmers.

 

What is your favorite part of your work as a student?

The best part of my work is thinking, reading, and writing about how research can be instrumental in small-scale agricultural development. I get excited about seeds and the informal systems by which they are preserved and exchanged. These systems are vital for both food security and cultural identity.

 

How did Covenant prepare you as a person and how did it prepare you for your career?

I am profoundly indebted to my Covenant professors—specifically, Dr. Fikkert, Dr. Mask, Mr. Corbett, Dr. Green, Dr. Davis, Dr. Haddad, and the late Dr. Barker—precisely because the preparation for my career and for myself personally were one and the same. Under their instruction, I learned to integrate theoretically critical and Biblically orthodox views of the world. I learned to reason morally and scientifically. Most of all, I learned to desire the kingdom of God.

 

Tell us a little more about your church

I am a parishioner at Ascension Church in State College, Pennsylvania. Ascension Church belongs to the Anglican Church in North America. We are a new church and currently meet on Penn State’s campus. Our church is committed to Jesus Christ, the full witness and authority of Scripture, worship, ministry, expectant prayer, and sacrificial giving.

 

 


 

Kristin Owen
Kristin Owen ’13

 

Current occupation

Master's of Public Policy Candidate, the Frank Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia.

 

Current residence

Charlottesville, VA

 

Church

Trinity Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, VA

 

What were you involved in on-campus while at Covenant?

I was president of the widows ministry, a core group member of RUF, and vice president of the economics club.

 

What has your career path looked like since leaving Covenant?

After I graduated from Covenant in 2013, I spent a year as a Trinity Fellow in Charlottesville, VA. The Fellows Initiative is composed of 21 programs all over the country and was absolutely the best place I could have spent my first year out of Covenant. My fellows year was an intense and practical time of spiritual and vocational leadership training. I took seminary classes, volunteered, was mentored, and worked part-time as a research intern for a community development consultant. I fell in love with Charlottesville, and decided to apply to the University of Virginia so I could stay here while I pursued my education. Thanks in part to a recommendation letter from Dr. Mask, I was accepted into a masters program at UVA.

 

What is your favorite part of your work?

Ever since my experience working as a research intern for the Chalmers Center in Togo, I’ve been very interested in quantitative research. I love the idea having a question and designing an airtight research project to attempt to answer it. With public policy, I’m building up a skill set that will help me do that better and also applying it to meaningful, real world problems. As a community development undergrad at Covenant, we joked a lot that our stereotype was that we were just a bunch of idealists who wanted to change the world. Well…I kind of am. And I know I’m not going to be able to solve all the world’s problems, but I’m sure going to give it my best shot and maybe do some good. And I believe God is using this public policy education to help me get there.

 

How did Covenant prepare you as a person and how did it prepare you for your career?

I cannot even begin to describe how instrumental Covenant and my majors were in my life and career aspirations. There is no way I would be at UVA without my incredible professors who challenged me, invested in me, believed in me, and mentored me. I came into this difficult master’s program very well prepared and with a competitive résumé thanks to the experiences I had at Covenant.

 

Tell us a little more about your church

I am very involved in my church. Moving to a new city, plugging into my church was one of my highest priorities. I lead a small group of middle school girls, babysit for families, meet with a mentor, and meet with my amazing pastors when I can squeeze into their busy schedules. The most meaningful involvement in my church is just actively being a part of the community and working to welcome others into it.

 

 


 

Jonathan Wilson
Jonathan Wilson ’06

 

Current occupation

Family Medicine Resident at Carolinas Medical Center Family Medicine Residency in the Urban Underserved Track

 

Current residence

Charlotte, NC

 

Family members

Wife, Ingrid; son, Oak; and pup, Ellie.

 

Church

Christ Central

 

What were you involved in on-campus while at Covenant?

Soccer, the Ghetto, phoneathon, Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church youth leader, community development, Collyn Schmidt disciple.

 

What has your career path looked like since leaving Covenant?

I’ve had a very circuitous route since college. I’ve worked and lived in the inner city, taught school with fellow Covenant alumnus Austin Branson in Budapest, lived and worked in Haiti working on a vaccination program, and came back to Covenant to work and teach while taking classes for medical school. But all along the way, the Lord has been faithful and my Covenant education has given me a lens to explore and seek out my calling. In 2009, I started medical school at the Medical College of Georgia and in 2013 accepted a Fulbright Scholarship to study HIV with my wife in South Africa. I am now in my first year of residency in Family Medicine.

 

What is your favorite part of your job? What gets you excited to go to work every day?

I love getting to take care of people. When you walk into a patient’s room there is an immediate intimacy and it often leads to wonderful conversations, a chance to listen to someone’s story, and a wide-open opportunity to share about the only hope we have. I feel honored to bring some hope of healing in this broken world and to be able to point to ultimate healing through relationship with Jesus.

 

How did Covenant prepare you as a person and how did it prepare you for your career?

I had an incredibly rich experience at Covenant and was so challenged by my classes in community development. I found a real sense of calling and excitement in being charged to risk going to hard, poverty stricken areas with real skills to affirm the dignity of those marginalized in society. My wife and I are seeking to live that out in “Grier Town,” a blighted area of Charlotte, where in our short time here we’ve been blown away by the love our neighbors have shown us. Covenant prepared me not only to handle the rigors of medical school, but also to have a worldview that has encouraged me to see my patients as image bearers, not just a diagnosis.

 

Tell us a little more about your church

We just joined Christ Central and have been so blessed by the teaching and our community group, which has helped us with a whole lot of transitions: moving to a new city, buying a home, having our son, and starting a new job. Could not have done it without them!

 

 


 

Meet More Community Development Alumni:

 

Drs. Brian Fikkert and Russell Mask’s book From Dependence to Dignity won an award of merit in the missions/global church category of Christianity Today’s 2016 book awards.

"I love the holistic approach of community development. Although I am only a few classes into the major, it is already transforming my view on life. I also have really enjoyed being taught by Dr. Fikkert and Professor Corbett. They are SO knowledgeable in the field of community development and their passion is contagious."
 - Brittany Stout '18

Professor Corbett describes the complex field of community development, and discusses Covenant’s community development major.

Chris Carter

"The Community Development program is preparing me for a life dedicated to the work of Christ in a setting that may otherwise be way out of my comfort zone. The classes are beautifully crafted to give you the confidence and knowledge needed to step into the third world, but also instill an understanding of the necessity of humility and an open heart when interacting with a new culture. Corbett and Fikkert, two of the key professors in the major, are extremely respected individuals in their field, yet meet you at such a personal level and concentrate on your personal growth. Never have I been in a position in my life where I wake up stoked to go to my classes, nor have I ever felt so loved and supported by professors who care so much about your dreams and plans for the future. "
 - Chris Carter '18
Evan Weir '15 discusses the powerful influence of professors like Dr. Lance Wescher, associate professor of economics, who take the time to care for students both in, and outside of, the classroom.