Sarah Jelgerhuis ’09
Current city and job
St. Louis, MO | Owner, Paperwhite Designs
What first interested you in your career? How did you discern your calling?
I've always had an innate love of people and their stories. Going into college, I toyed with the idea of teaching and then landed on sociology as a major with the intention of becoming a counselor. I've also always had a love for creativity and atmosphere building, it's something that has just come naturally to me. I sort of fell into the realm of event planning by accident after completing a summer internship in San Francisco after my sophomore year of college.
Doors opened in event planning, but I eventually found myself very tired of the late night and weekend hours that came along with that field of work. As a creative side outlet, I decided to open an Etsy shop offering tissue pom poms and flowers for events. I had no idea that it would soon become a full-time gig combining many of the things l love.
What has your career path looked like since graduating from Covenant?
I began Paperwhite Designs in March of 2011 as a creative outlet and in July of 2011 my husband Ross and I moved to St. Louis for him to start seminary. I was struggling to find a position that I was really excited about. As we both kept praying about what a job for me during this time would look like, I felt like I gained the confidence to give PWD a go full-time. I decided to give it a month and if it wasn't bringing in what we needed after that time, I'd find something to supplement. It's still amazing to look back and see the massive only God-credited growth in my business from June to July that year.
After a few years into building PWD solo, I was able to bring on an employee. Over the span of ten years, five moves, and three different states, I've had the privilege of having eleven individuals work with me. What I wasn't expecting or prepared for was just how deeply God would bless my family and I through these relationships. It's amazing how deeply you can get to know someone when you spend hours folding paper flowers next to them. God has so sweetly combined my loves in an unlikely paper flower business. Ross and I comment constantly on how clearly we see God's hand of provision for our family through Paperwhite Designs relationally and financially. Flower therapy is what we affectionately call it.
Looking back now, how did Covenant prepare you for your career and for life?
Covenant taught me how to live life alongside others in a meaningful way. Yes, the business classes and sociology classes have proved to be immensely helpful in running my own business, but the hands-on experiential discipleship lessons in relationships have enhanced the culture and mission of Paperwhite Designs.
In what ways does your faith inform your career?
The idea of faithfully tending to the garden that God has given me informs my every step. I'm a child of God, the wife of a pastor, the homeschool mom of three kids, and a business owner. When I don't lose sight of my first calling to God, it's amazing how all of these roles work in such harmony. It's beautiful to watch the intersecting of lives in our home. To watch God bring just the right employee in to help at the right time and to see the mutual love and care that grows is special. I get to share life with others in my home on a daily basis and teach my kids the power of a good work ethic and the beauty of integrating our story with someone else's in a life changing way. I also get to add beauty to the world on a daily basis.
What advice would you give students who are considering Covenant?
Go visit! Immerse yourself in the campus life and try not to fall in love. You will form lasting relationships at Covenant. So many of my memories are so profound because of the relationships that are attached to them. Deep connection was the heartbeat of life on campus whether it be dorm life or classroom life.
Why did you choose Covenant?
I had four older cousins who all went to Covenant, so I had grown up hearing about it. I went to a preview weekend my senior year and fell in love with it—the rest is history!
What are some fond memories or a favorite story from your time at Covenant?
I remember my first Friday night on campus. I was feeling pretty homesick and shy, and I was literally ironing my pajamas to make it look like I had something productive to do. My RA walked in, grabbed my hand, and said, "Hey, come hang with my friends and I tonight." I'll never forget being discipled into community life like that. She was a senior and she let me, a little freshman, tag along with her and her friends that night. It meant the world to me.
Undergraduate Departments, Majors, Minors, Certificates, Concentrations, and Programs
- Arts Administration
- Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability
- Journalism and Society
- Medical Ethics Consultation
- Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
- Art, 2-D Concentration
- Art, 3-D Concentration
- Art, Art History Concentration
- Art, Graphic Design Concentration
- Art, Photography Concentration
- Art minor
- Art History minor
- Biblical & Theological Studies
- Biblical & Theological Studies, Missions Concentration
- Biblical & Theological Studies minor
- Biblical Languages minor
- History of Christianity minor
- Missions minor
- Youth Ministry minor
- Biology, Biomedical Concentration
- Biology, Environmental Concentration
- Biology, General
- Biology, Health Professions Concentration
- Biology minor
- Business, Accounting Concentration
- Business, Finance Concentration
- Business, Marketing Concentration
- Sport Management
- Business minor
- Sport Management minor
- Chemistry, Biochemistry Concentration
- Chemistry, General
- Biochemistry minor
- Chemistry minor
- Computer Science
- Computer Science minor
- Community Development
- Community Development minor
- Economics minor
- Education Studies
- Elementary Education (P-5)
- Secondary Education Certifications through MAT program
- Education minor
- Natural Science, Pre-Engineering Studies Concentration
- English, Writing Concentration
- English minor
- Writing minor
- Coaching minor
- History, Art History Concentration
- Political Science
- International Studies
- History minor
- Political Science minor
- Interdisciplinary Studies with Concentrations
- Mathematics minor
- Music, Church Music Concentration
- Music, Creative Studies Concentration
- Music, General Music Concentration
- Music, Instrumental Performance Concentration
- Music, Music Education (Pre-MAT) Concentration
- Music, Organ Performance Concentration
- Music, Piano Pedagogy Concentration
- Music, Piano Performance Concentration
- Music, Vocal Performance Concentration
- Music minor
- Philosophy minor
- Physics minor
- Pre-Law Studies
- Pre-Medical Studies
- Pre-Nursing Studies
- Pre-Physical Therapy Studies
- Psychology minor
- Sociology, Family Studies & Social Work Concentration
- Sociology minor
- Theatre minor
- French minor
- Spanish minor