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July 29, 2021 | Andrew Hurst

Dallas, TX


Hometown: Rockwall, Texas

Degree Obtained: Bachelor of Arts in English (2019)

 

Q: What are you up to these days? How has life been since graduating from SAGU?

Since graduating two years ago, life has been rather chaotic, and filled with enough ups and downs to give a rollercoaster a run for its money! Right now I am a teacher, but I have also just started working on my Master’s in Creative Writing at Liberty University. So in addition to teaching fourth grade, I am also in a graduate program and writing a novel in my free time.

Q: What is your current job, and what led you to that line of work?

I am entering into my second year as a fourth-grade reading teacher at Trinity Basin Preparatory – a charter school in Oak Cliff, Texas.

Finding a job after college was a little bit of a struggle for me. I was getting a lot of rejections from companies and it was really starting to take a toll on my confidence as a fresh-faced graduate in the work force. I looked for jobs for a little over a year and became a substitute teacher in the meantime. Then, in March of 2020, I could no longer work because of the start of the pandemic. Companies and businesses were not putting out many jobs and my chances of finding one was rapidly becoming slimmer. It seemed like doors were closing left and right. However, God has quite the sense of humor. I graduated with a degree in English, and originally did not want to go into teaching. But, my college roommate and good friend is a fourth grade teacher, and her principal was looking for positions to fill at that campus. So, I went in for an interview, got accepted into an alternative teaching certification program, and was hired in June. Now, I officially have my teaching certificate and I’m about to start my second year! It is really neat to see how God used one of my SAGU connections to open the right door for me.

Q: What have you found most fulfilling as a teacher?

There are two things that I have found the most fulfilling as a teacher. First, I love building relationships with my students. My favorite part of the job is getting to connect with the kids, build up that relationship with them, and encourage them to be the best version of themselves. Though it was challenging to teach mostly through a screen this year, I was able to get to know every single one of my students and attempt to be a comfort for them in a world of chaos.

Second, I love to read and write. I’m a storyteller and book nerd at heart, and I love getting to apply that passion in my teaching. I make it a habit to make those subjects enjoyable for my students. During our study of poetry, one of my students said, “I didn’t really enjoy reading and writing poetry, but now that you helped me understand it, I actually really like it!” That is so affirming to me as an educator – if you are passionate about what you teach, the students will see that and be more eager to learn from you.

Q: In what ways has God challenged you since entering into the workforce? Any exciting stories?

Oh wow, yes. Teaching always requires us to be flexible, but this past school year, the craziness of the pandemic took that to a whole new level. Students were given the option to either come to school in-person, or stay home and learn virtually. So, I had to teach in many different ways: virtually, in-person, and the most challenging – dual method, teaching virtual and in-person students at the same time. I did not get my education degree, nor did I understand how to work any of the online teaching platforms, so it was definitely an adjustment. Every six weeks was another monumental change, so I was constantly having to adjust and figure out the best way to teach. I’m so proud of myself and all the other educators this past year who had to learn to adapt in the most unusual and unconventional circumstances.

Mikayla Heldt upon graduating in
Mikayla Heldt poses in front of the historic Farmer Administration Building on SAGU's
campus during the week of her undergraduate graduation (2019)
 

Q: How do you think SAGU prepared you for your career? For life after college?

I think the best way that SAGU prepared me for my career and life after college was how to stay grounded spiritually. All of my classes had some aspect of the Bible, theology, or growing my spiritual life, and I truly believe that has helped me navigate life after being in the “Christian college” bubble. Once you leave SAGU, you realize just how dark the world really is. Our mission field is our workplace, so it’s important to carry that light as we go to our jobs everyday, so that people can see how God is working in our ordinary lives. 

Q: Would you recommend SAGU’s English program? 

"I love SAGU’s English program, and would recommend it to anyone who is creative or passionate about literature. The professors in that department were always so supportive whenever I needed them, and they helped me really understand and hone my craft."

Though I am thankful for all the classes and professors I had, Dr. Lewis and her Creative Writing class was probably my favorite. I was stretched and pulled out of my comfort zone, but it was a fantastic experience and really helped me grow as a creative-minded person and educator!

Q: How have you been utilizing your training and writing skills?

Though I ended up working in a field that wasn’t what I went to SAGU for, I was still able to use my writing skills and knowledge that I acquired from my time on campus. This past year, I was a reading and writing teacher, and I had to prepare my students for both of those STAAR tests. Those skills provided me with a way to show students how to turn sentences into paragraphs, and finally, paragraphs into essays. I was also taught how to think critically and ask questions, which I passed on to my students as well. Additionally, I taught students the importance of reading carefully and annotating properly to show their work. In the end, I think those skills paid off, because my partner teacher and I had the highest STAAR schools in the district!

Q: What do you miss most about SAGU?

There are so many things about SAGU that I miss, but I miss being in chapel the most. It was so beneficial for me spiritually to be refreshed each and every day, and I truly didn’t understand how important they were to me until I graduated. Something else I miss at SAGU is my classes. My professors always incorporated the Bible or Christian values into our curriculum. It was so impactful to be prepared for my career while also growing spiritually to prepare for my specific mission field – which is, in this case, teaching! To those currently enrolled at Southwestern, I highly encourage you not to take these spiritual teachings and biblical wisdom for granted. They are so important for our growth as Christian leaders as we get ready to go out into the world to preach the gospel and show the love of Jesus.

Q: If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself upon graduating from SAGU?

The advice I would give myself would be to trust in God’s plan, always. Sometimes I don’t understand what journey He’s taking me on, or what doors He plans to open. But as cliché as it sounds, I know He has a purpose in that journey. Sometimes that journey is painful or confusing, but once you get to your destination and look back, you realize just how much stronger you are because God was able to grow and refine you according to His will.


Mikayla is utilizing her training from SAGU and skills as a writer to educate the next generation. Are you interested in the written language or growing your skills as a communicator? Our bachelor's in English can provide you with the knowledge and tools to excel as a communicator for a number of industries and career paths! Learn more here! 

As a leading Christian university, SAGU educates and prepares individuals who want to serve Christ and others. SAGU helps students discover and develop their God-given callings in a Spirit-empowered, learning community.

We believe in affordable tuition, made possible in part through the financial support of donors who embrace the mission of SAGU and the importance of affordable, accredited programs to train Christians for leadership in ministry, business, education, and service.

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