Alumni Profile: Alina Hansinger Kodatt '01
What do you get when you take a young lady with a lively and ethnically diverse family background, mix in a lot of creativity, a Covenant College education, and top it off with a master’s in counseling? The answer is Alina Hansinger Kodatt’01, a thoughtful writer and artistic photographer with a worldview grounded in God’s word.
After graduation from Covenant with a major in English and minor in sociology, Alina Hansinger Kodatt ’01 received a master’s degree in counseling from Covenant Seminary. She and her husband, Matt, moved to California where she worked as an elementary school therapist before her daughter was born. “I absolutely loved working with children, combining both talk and play therapy in my sessions.” Alina, Matt ’01 and daughter Karis now live in Jacksonville, Florida, where Alina writes for the State of the Re:Union, an NPR radio program that explores how people are building community in their town. Alina says, “It's a fantastic opportunity to be writing for a national audience on such a quality program. I hope to continue to work with the creative team on the show as long as possible.”
Alina also writes a few times a week for her own beautifully photographically illustrated blog, telling stories about her everyday life. “I love to blog! It is so rewarding to be able to exercise my writing and photography muscles on a regular basis and get real, live feedback from followers. I love to write stories, and I find that to be the bridge between my love for counseling and writing: exploring relationships and life and then writing about them. It's so incredibly fulfilling!” Even though her “larger and more precious job at this time is to be a stay-at-home mother,” Alina loves that she manages to carve out some time here and there to write and take pictures of the beautiful and ordinary aspects of her life.
Alina was born in Chicago , Illinois, lived in Indiana until she was seven and then moved to Cape Coral, Florida, where she spent most of her childhood. “My mother was born and raised in Cuba, so cross-cultural experiences were a fact of everyday life for me growing up. Invariably, weekend trips to Miami consisted of total submersion into Cuban culture. The food, smells, sounds, and sights—everything about it was different than my everyday life. I’m so grateful that I grew up with those experiences, and to be honest, life doesn’t seem quite right if I don’t surround myself with people of different cultures on a regular basis.”
Alina’s self-described “eclectic” background set the stage for what she categorizes as one of her favorite Covenant experiences, the semester she studied in Slovakia with ten other Covenant students led by English professor Dr. Paul Hesselink. “The entire experience of studying abroad was life changing.” Alina believes traveling through parts of the world where people had vastly different worldviews helped sharpen her own worldview.
“Covenant's biggest impact on me was teaching me how to think. There are so many institutions that strive to teach you what to think. The most important tool Covenant gave me was the ability to think critically and ask good questions, such as: What presuppositions do I hold? What is the framework through which I or other people are looking? What are the redeeming aspects of this?” Alina says that it was at Covenant where she learned to see that, in Christ, she was a thinking person and had her perspective on the world and life sharpened. “Covenant brought to awareness that I had a worldview, and then it challenged my presuppositions about life and encouraged me to ground my worldview in God's truth.”
A mission trip to the Bowery Mission in New York City during a spring break also had a lasting impact on Alina. “I went expecting to ‘evangelize’ the homeless men who stayed there, but instead the Lord used those men to speak to me. As I heard others share their faith to the homeless men, I heard the Lord speaking to me about His grace. It was only by God's grace that I wasn't one of the homeless men sitting there, living on the streets, cut off from family and friends, or, like some of them, suffering from mental illness. It was also only by God's grace that He chose me to be his child, not anything I had done right in my life. Although I had been a believer in Jesus for many years, that trip helped to color in some of the missing or weak pieces of my theology, particularly regarding God's grace. I'm so grateful for that humbling trip.”
Alina says her professors all added to her experience in many different ways. “Nick Barker's passion for literature and beauty was infectious in the classroom. Bill Davis' careful and thoughtful dissection of truth was enlightening and, at times, overload for my ‘right brain’ mind. So many professors can be credited for pushing my academics, creativity, and analytical thinking farther than I anticipated.”
Other students also had a lasting impact on her life says Alina. “I came to college young and arrogant. God put roommates and hall mates in my life with whom I had fun, learned how to walk with in relationship, and with whom I wrestled the truths we were daily learning.”
In the midst of everything she has pursued since college days, Alina reflects on how Covenant’s motto, “In all things Christ preeminent,” will periodically pop into her mind. “As a mom doing the menial, daily tasks of caring for my family, I often remind myself of the importance of these small, thankless, and unnoticed moments (by anyone other than my child) in my day.”
In writing and photography, Alina says she strives for artistic and technical excellence, knowing these efforts bring glory to God as well as express His own creativity and excellence. “Christ has everything to do with what and how I write and photograph. I strive to do my absolute best in these areas, knowing that the whole of this world is my Father's world, and He delights in my creativity...the very creativity that He designed and saw fit to equip me with.”